Mystics vs. Aces Odds, Picks, Predictions | WNBA Betting Preview (August 31)
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Shakira Austin #0 of the Washington Mystics
Mystics vs. Aces Odds
With just over a week to go in the regular season, the Washington Mystics head to Las Vegas to take on the first-place Aces.
Both teams have plenty to play for, with Washington firmly in the middle of the 4-7 glut of the playoff mix, currently a half game up on two teams, with first-round home court on the line. For the Aces, they remain just one game up on the Liberty in the loss column, with New York holding the tiebreaker.
These two teams met in Washington less than a week ago, with the Mystics handing the Aces their fifth loss of the season. Will the Aces extract a little revenge, or do the finally-fully-healthy Mystics have what it takes to take the Aces down even in their home building? Let's find out.
For fans of the Mystics, and just basketball in general, this had to be just about the prettiest tweet you'll see:
— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) August 31, 2023
It has been a harrowing season for the Mystics in terms of their injury report. Elena Delle Donne and Shakira Austin have both missed 17 of their 35 games. Ariel Atkins has missed 11 of 35. And even more so, all these injuries clustered together, leaving the team scrambling just to tread water for the middle months of the season. And they survived!
A .500 record was not the goal in the preseason, but if you had shown them their season-long injury report and told them they'd be sitting in fifth with 10 days left in the season, I think they'd take it. And even more importantly, the timing is such that they now are set up to potentially (knocks so intensely on wood) be healthy for the postseason, and really give some teams a scare.
Their ideal starting lineup of Cloud-Sykes-Atkins-EDD-Austin has played only 202 minutes together this entire season, but they have been mighty impressive in those minutes. They have an offensive rating of 109.5 which is very good, but more impressively, they have a defensive rating of 84.7 in those minutes which is comically outstanding. That's a +24.8 net rating overall.
For a few points of comparison, the Aces "dream five"–which they can't actually turn to for this game, because Candace Parker is still sidelined–owns a net rating of +24.4 in 239 minutes together. Eerily similar. The Liberty starting five are a +21.3 net rating, but in nearly twice as many minutes as the Mystics and Aces.
When healthy, this Mystics team can give the Liberty and Aces a run for their money.
Las Vegas Aces
Especially this version of the Aces. If we're looking for the diametric opposite to the Mystics tweet above, it has to be this:
"I feel like I'm pressing the gas but there's no gas in the tank." – @LVAces coach Becky Hammon on the team's fatigue entering their game against the New York Liberty today
— Andy Yamashita | 山下伸辛 (@ANYamashita) August 28, 2023
That's a terrifying quote if you're an Aces fan counting down the days until they start their title defense. There's a reason this league hasn't seen a successful title defense since the Sparks in 2002 ([). While the season is shorter than the NBA, the vast majority of the players are playing year-round overseas, and with a shorter postseason, there is more variance in outcomes, making it very challenging to mount a solid title defense. In fact, in the previous 10 seasons, the defending champion has only even made the Finals twice, the Lynx and Sparks once each when they were trading titles back and forth in 2016-17.
The Aces are still prohibitive favorites, but I believe the market is overrating them to a degree, both when it comes to the futures market, but also their current lines they are getting. For the month of August, this was a +4.9 net rating team, and the net rating only gets worse and worse the more recent the time frame we give it (-0.4 since Aug. 14; -2.1 since Aug. 21).
Getting back home will do this team good, but this is one of those "half" home games, where the Aces are back from a road trip and not fully settled. Also, the last time this team was at home, they scored only 72 points and lost to the Los Angeles Sparks–a team not nearly as good as this fully healthy Mystics team.
Mystics vs. Aces
Betting Pick & Prediction
It should be clear by now that I am taking the Mystics side of this spread. The line opened at Aces -7.5, which was annoyingly close to where I had the number, but thankfully bettors moved it to Aces -9.5, where I do see value.
I am also on the under here, making me two-for-two going against the early steam on this game. However, I personally have Shakira Austin nearly as important as any individual player to the over/under for her team in the WNBA. Austin is not only one of the most elite defenders in the league (and central to the Mystics defensive scheme, as a whole), but she also sows down their pace on the offensive side, thus helping the under on both sides of the coin. The Mystics are 4-1 to the under since her return.
Meanwhile, these "out of gas" Aces have gone under on their team total in five of their last seven.
I also think an under correlates well with the Mystics having a good game, so I may tie the two together in a very small same game parlay, too.