Liberty vs. Aces Odds, Picks, Predictions | WNBA Betting Preview (August 17)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: A’ja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas Aces and Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the New York Liberty.
Liberty vs. Aces Odds
Let's run it back! The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces meet for the second time in 50 hours on Thursday night, once again on Amazon Prime. The two top teams in the W just faced off on Tuesday night in the Commissioner's Cup Final, with the Liberty running away in the second half for the second straight matchup between these two teams.
Thursday night will mark the fourth matchup between these two sides, and while it may well be the wonkiest of the group–coming just two days after a blowout Commissioner's Cup Final — every one of these matchups has been a little bit wonky this season, so let's take a look at what has stood out in these meetings and see what we can find bettors for Thursday night's action.
New York Liberty
To a certain degree, the three games so far can be distilled to shooting variance. Take a look at this chart:
|First Meeting||Second Meeting||Third Meeting|
|Result||Aces Won||Liberty Won||Liberty Won|
The team that shot better from both the 3-point line, and the field has won all three games — shocking, I know. So is Thursday just a matter of figuring out which team will shoot better? To a degree, yes, that's what every basketball game is, but there's obviously more to it than that.
To me, there are three numbers that are going to be the most important: The Liberty's 3-point field goal attempts; Jonquel Jones' rebounds; and A'ja Wilson's field goal percentage.
For the Liberty, we noted in Tuesday's preview that they have only been taking more and more and more 3s per game as the season has gone along. It has helped drive their improved offense, and they are reaching heights never before seen in this league in terms of attempts per game. They are doing all this while barely sacrificing any efficiency. As comparison, the Aces shoot about one percent better from deep than the Liberty, but New York takes five more 3s a game than the Aces, and as such, they net about five points per game more than the Aces from beyond the arc.
Since the All-Star break, that gap has increased to seven points a game.
The second stat we will address in this section is Jonquel Jones' rebounding. Since the All-Star break, Jones is leading the league in both rebounds per game (11.9) and offensive rebounds per game (3.6), and she has looked every bit that demon on the glass against the Aces. In their first win, JJ had 14 rebounds, five on the offensive glass, and on Tuesday, she had 15 boards including seven (!!) on the offensive end, en route to an MVP performance.
Part of that is JJ being one of the most skilled rebounders in the sport, but part of that is the Aces vulnerability in the frontcourt once they lost Candace Parker. To once again highlight a statistic from Tuesday's preview: The Aces are allowing the second-most second-chance points in the league since Parker went out. The gap between the two teams is around four points on second chance points.
Las Vegas Aces
Now, in theory, the Aces should be able to make up for these deficits a few ways: By turning the ball over less, shooting a higher percentage from two, and getting to the free throw line more.
The Aces average about 2.7 fewer turnovers per game than the Liberty, which comes out to about four points. For the season as a whole, it's about a four-point gap in terms of two-point field goal percentage, and about a two-point gap in terms of free throws per game. Add that all up and we get to ten points.
Now, a lot of this is shuffling of deck chairs to get us to the fact that these two teams are very close when all factors are considered. But I think it has value because in seeing how each team takes advantage of their opponent, we learn more about what tweaks they can make.
For the Aces, it is very simple: Close out better on the perimeter and box out. For the Liberty, it's turning the ball over less and committing fewer fouls.
Liberty vs. Aces
Betting Pick & Prediction
As for Thursday's game, in particular, wonky is the word. These two teams literally just played and in a much more important atmosphere. While the Liberty certainly will take this game seriously (if they win again, the race for the top seed is decidedly on, which carries massive weight considering how good the Aces are at home), they also likely had to celebrate their Commissioner's Cup win at least a little bit.
Call it Revenge Game, or Rubber Band Effect, but the Aces opened at -5 (around where I would have it right now), and the market very quickly moved them to -6.5.
And that's where I will be looking; to a degree. First of all, I'll say this game is a semi stay away for me, and nothing is going to be more than a lean. These matchups have been incredibly variant to being with, and adding in the back-to-back, fresh-off-a-trophy nature of this game, and it really could go a million ways.
So to harness that unknowability, I am taking the Aces alt spread. I am leaning to the Aces in this spot, and we have seen blowouts galore in this matchup so far this season. Bettors can get the Aces -16.5 +390 at DraftKings, and that's what I'm going to sprinkle today.
I also like the Aces in the first half (revenge; rubber band), so will add Las Vegas -3.5 first half as well.