Liberty vs. Sun Odds, Picks, Predictions | WNBA Betting Preview (August 24)
Scott Eklund/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Alyssa Thomas.
Liberty vs. Sun Odds
The New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun face off in a potential playoff preview on Thursday night on Amazon Prime. These are the current No. 2 and 3 seeds in the WNBA, and both are likely to stay in those spots.
As such, if both teams were to win their first-round matchups come postseason, they would face off in the semis.
Of course, that is getting ahead of ourselves, and the teams will be locked and loaded for the game Thursday, not looking ahead to any potential postseason clashes.
However, it is worth noting that the Liberty's two wins over the Sun this season are basically the difference between the two teams in the standings, and that the two teams also still play twice down the stretch, meaning we will have lots of information on this matchup as we head into the playoffs.
Let's look backward at past matchups and glance ahead to Thursday night to find some bets for this game.
New York Liberty
The Liberty last played on Friday and posted a dominant win in Phoenix in a bounce-back spot after a loss to the Aces three days prior. The Liberty are now 11-2 in their last 13 games and have rather consistently found themselves atop the net rating rankings throughout the past month.
Coincidentally, it was their games against the Sun that provided some ballast in their early season scuffles. We have noted how the Liberty never looked fully settled in the first couple months of the season, but their games against the Sun were among their best performances in the early season.
They topped Connecticut by 16 points at home in the third game of the season (81-65), and then went to Uncasville, Conn., and prevailed by eight (89-81) exactly a month later.
Unfortunately for us, the two game scripts weren't all that similar. In the first matchup, they fell behind early, but used some strong defense to choke off the Sun and run away with the game late. They really hurt the Sun on the offensive glass, and their bench was massive, scoring 39 of their 81 points.
In the second matchup, it was close throughout, and the offenses both did better. Both teams avoided turnovers, and it was the starters who drove the success of the Liberty, with four starters scoring at least 14 points.
The one player who pops as having two strong games against the Sun is Courtney Vandersloot, but her offensive usage has been dropping throughout the season, and her player props seem relatively well-priced.
For the Sun, it doesn't take digging too far to see the issue in these games against the Liberty. Their star player and offensive engine, Alyssa Thomas, has struggled against the Liberty this season.
In their first matchup, she took only five shots and missed every one of them, collecting just five points — all from the free throw line. Her eight rebounds and two assists were also well below average.
In their second matchup, her numbers improved on the surface (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), but her scoring still lacked efficiency, as she was 5-of-17 from the field and got to the free throw line only once.
It makes sense given the Liberty frontcourt is one of the strongest defensive duos in the league, with Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones giving opposing forwards fits. Thomas isn't the type of player who is able to stretch the floor on these opposing bigs, either, with a very limited range to her game.
Of Thomas's 439 field goal attempts this season, 77.7 percent have come from either 0-3 feet or 3-10 feet. The Liberty defense ranks second-best in terms of lowest field goal percentage from 0-3 feet, and third-best from 3-10 feet.
If the Liberty are once again able to hold Thomas to inefficient shooting, it will go a long way in collecting a third victory over their Eastern Conference rivals.
Liberty vs. Sun
Betting Pick & Prediction
It's worth noting that although this is a home game for the Sun, it's one of those "half" home games, because the Sun are fresh off a road trip, and actually have played more recently on the road than the Liberty, who have had nearly a week off.
I made this game right on Liberty -5,5 before accounting for that slight schedule spot edge to the Liberty, so I lean to the New York side of the spread.
But my favorite play for the day was laid out above. Yes, Thomas is coming off back-to-back games with over 20 points, but this is just a tough matchup for her. In fact, the two recent high-scoring games have bumped her line up to 16.5, where I love the under.
Because her scoring has been up, and bettors are more likely to track that than the matchup in particular, bettors may even be able to wait and see if a better number comes up, or if they can get less juice on that under later in the day.