How ‘bout them ‘dogs?!
After handing out a pair of series underdog series bets in our series preview, both ‘dogs came out and took Game 1 on the road in a couple of tightly-contested and incredibly fun openers.
That’s good news on multiple fronts. First and foremost, if you tailed those series bets, they are clearly both far more likely to hit than they were headed into these series.
But, that’s not all. It also gives bettors a chance to hedge if they tailed the original bet but saw something in either of those Game 1s that makes them think that the favorite will storm back to take the series. Both pre-series favorites can now be found at plus money.
However, personally, I’m not going that way.
I’ll lay out here why what I saw in those Game 1s aligned with my original vision of how I saw each series playing out. The only potential hedge I might recommend value-wise would be an Aces title future (+240 at Caesars), but as a tried-and-true Aces non-believer, I personally won’t be making that bet.
Let’s get to the Game 2 breakdowns.
Article plays: 69-48-3 (21.0% ROI)
Action Network app plays: 187-168-3 (9.5% ROI)
WNBA Odds & Picks
Click on game to skip ahead
|Sun vs. Sky Game 2||8 p.m. ET|
|Storm vs. Aces Game 2||10 p.m. ET|
Sun vs. Sky Game 2 Odds
|Moneyline||+162 / -195|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | ESPN2|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
No one other than the “Out for Season” folk.
Chicago Fireball Comes to a Screeching Halt
In our series preview, it was noted that the Sky had a True Shooting Percentage over 60 percent combined in the four Sun-Sky regular season matchups. Was it just a run of hot luck, or was there something about Connecticut that just couldn’t stop Chicago?
Well, Game 1 answered that, at least for a day. The Sky’s True Shooting Percentage plummeted to 41.2 percent — a far cry from even their regular season number (53.5 percent), let alone the ball of fire they were against the Sun this season.
Meanwhile, the Sun maintained their dominance on the glass that was a consistent theme for those four regular season games as well. Well, it’s no surprise that the Sun won then!
Now, the natural narrative is that, for both these favorites in action on Wednesday, there is a little extra juice to this Game 2. The road team will feel like they’ve done their job in stealing one on the road, and the home team — the favorite — is now on the ropes with a near must-win. So let’s see if that has played out as such.
Since 2016, when the WNBA moved to the format they kept up until this season, there have been eight times a road team has won Game 1 of a series.
|Year/Round & Matchup||Game 1 Result||Game 2 Result||Series Result|
|2016 Finals LAS-MIN||LAS 78-76||MIN 79-60||LAS 3-2|
|2017 Finals LAS-MIN||LAS 85-84||MIN 70-68||MIN 3-2|
|2018 Semis WAS-ATL||WAS 87-84||ATL 78-75||WAS 3-2|
|2020 Finals SEA-LVA||SEA 93-80||SEA 104-91||SEA 3-0|
|2020 Semis CONN-LVA||CONN 87-62||LVA 83-75||LVA 3-2|
|2021 Finals CHI-PHO||CHI 91-77||PHO 91-86||CHI 3-1|
|2021 Semis CHI-CONN||CHI 101-95||CONN 79-68||CHI 3-1|
|2022 1st Round NYL-CHI||NYL 98-91||CHI 100-62||CHI 2-1|
We’re dealing with a very limited sample here, and that’s often the issue with these types of fact-finding missions: The sample size never gets large enough to feel comfortable drawing legitimate conclusions. That being said, it can be a small input into how we see these games, as long as it’s not the sole determining factor.
Looking at the chart above, only once out of eight times did the road team win again in Game 2. The average margin of victory was also over 9.0 points in those wins. Although that number is slightly skewed by the Sky’s romp of the Liberty in the first round this year (and that was a little different in that it wasn’t a semi-finals or finals matchup), only two of these games were decided by fewer than five points (the average line on Wednesday).
As I said, let’s not overweight this chart, but I do think it’s enough to scare me off the Sun and Storm moneylines in Game 2. However, it’s not enough to make me jump ship to the other side, so I’ll just be sitting the moneylines and spreads out for Game 2s.
However, notice that five of the eight road teams that won Game 1 went on to win the series, so I still think the hedge is unnecessary. (Again, this trend is not the main factor in my decision there.)
Another way I was looking to play this series at the start was by playing unders. Of course, I managed to talk myself out of that when the books posted an incredibly sharp 165 total for Game 1, but I should have trusted my intuition. Game 1 went under by more than 30 points, and the books have responded with a 1.5-point drop. It feels like the Sky’s blazing shooting against the Sun may be behind us, so that will be a lean.
I also want to play a few player props. Candace Parker was the lone Sky player to really shine in Game 1, continuing her run of dominance over the Sun in a way the rest of her team couldn’t. I’ll take her point total over 14.5 at -130 at BetRivers, despite the overall under lean for the game.
The most interesting potential play to me is Jonquel Jones’ rebounds. In the series preview, I was hoping for the number to come in at 8.5 but would also take 9.5 at plus money. Well, I never got that opportunity for Game 1, but it now is a possibility with Over 9.5 coming in at +112 at FanDuel as of writing.
However, I am now a little nervous because it looks as though one of Curt Miller’s ploys is to go smaller against the Sky. Jones only played 26 minutes in Game 1 despite no injuries or foul trouble. It looks like Miller doesn’t want too much time with bigs Brionna and Jonquel Jonesing it up together out there.
This is surprising considering the two have a Net Rating of 26.2 when sharing the court this postseason (per PBP Stats), so that may not last, but it’s enough to make me a little nervous and make it a lean instead of a full play.
Leans: Under 163.5; Candace Parker Over 14.5 Points (at -136 or Better); Jonquel Jones Over 9.5 Rebounds (at +105 or Better)
Storm vs. Aces Game 2 Odds
|Moneyline||+205 / -250|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN2|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
The only potential injury to keep an eye on is Gabby Williams and her concussion that kept her out of Game 2. I’m very much not reporting, but if I had to guess, she’d be more likely to return for Game 3 than Game 2.
A’ja Wilson Day?
Alright, we were wordy in the first section, and because of the similarities in these Game 1s, we can recap a bit here. I still am very much on the Storm for the series, but I do think the Aces will come out firing in Game 2 and therefore am staying away from the Seattle moneyline in this game.
There are, however, angles to bet here. For one, I loved overs for this series, and while Game 1 didn’t hit (in fact, it went well under), I am going back to the well here, especially at a lower number.
Mostly though, I really like several player props.
This is potentially biased slightly by narrative, but A’ja Wilson seems poised for a monster Game 2. For one, I came into this series looking at Wilson overs — she mauled the Storm during the regular season to the tune of 23 and 12 with three assists and three stocks per game. Add in the fact that the Aces are facing a virtual must-win, and the fact that Wilson only got 10 shots up in Game 1, and I’m betting on her being fed the ball early and very often.
You can actually get near-even money at Over 19.5 points, which feels like a steal to me. I’m also leaning toward Over 10.5 Rebounds for her — she topped that total in Game 1 and did it with only one offensive rebound. I even like her To Score 25+ Points prop at FanDuel at +240. I’m all in on the MVP in Game 2.
One under I like, if you’re more of an unders bettor, is Jackie Young’s point total. She has never really clicked against Seattle, and with Plum, Gray, and Wilson likely to eat up the lion’s share of the looks, 16.5 is a big number. Young only got six shots up in Game 1, and that has been a theme when these two teams play.
Finally, I loved the Jewell Lloyd’s point total over when it came out at 16.5, but I’ll even take the over at 17.5. She matches up perfectly with the Aces defense, and she’s a playoff star. Her Game 1 point total (26) wasn’t even on all that crazy of a shooting night.
Picks: Over 169; A’ja Wilson Over 19.5 Points (even with juice); Jackie Young Under 16.5 Points
Leans: A’ja Wilson Over 10.5 Rebounds; Jewell Lloyd Over 17.5 Points; A’ja Wilson to Score 25+ Points (at +200 or Better)
Sprinkle (0.2 Units): A’ja Wilson to Score First Basket +650