WNBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: 4 Best Bets From Thursday’s Slate, Including Sparks vs. Mercury (July 28)
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordin Canada (21) and Kianna Smith (5).
After a small break for 10 of the 12 teams in the W — Las Vegas and Chicago matched up in the Commissioner’s Cup — the league returns to regular season action on Thursday with a quadruple header starting at 7:00 pm EST.
With teams having already played between 27 and 30 games, each squad has roughly six to nine games left on its schedule to make moves before the expanded postseason begins on August 17.
There is only one game separating first-place Chicago and second-place Las Vegas and that one-game gap is the same for second to third, third to fourth and even fourth to fifth.
And honestly, that’s spacious compared to the battle for the bottom half of the bracket, where sixth through ninth are separated by just half a game! The Liberty are only one game in the loss column behind that cluster and even the Lynx are still alive, just two-and-a-half games out of that eighth and final playoff spot.
The stretch run is going to offer LOTS of overlapping matchups between these tightly contested teams and it should make for what is basically an extended playoffs.
Thursday’s lineup features Minnesota in a near must-win, two of the top five facing off, a potential four-five matchup preview in Dallas and Los Angeles (12-15) heading to Phoenix (12-16).
Let’s get to it.
Article plays: 39-28-1 (20.9% ROI)
Action Network app plays: 67-58-1 (3.1% ROI)
WNBA Odds, Picks
Click on game to skip ahead
|Lynx vs. Dream||7 p.m. ET|
|Storm vs. Sun||7 p.m. ET|
|Mystics vs. Wings||8 p.m. ET|
|Sparks vs. Mercury||10 p.m. ET|
Lynx vs. Dream
|Moneyline||-102 / -120|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
As the calendar progresses, these injury reports are starting to get a little busier. For Minnesota, two big names are listed as probable: Sylvia Fowles and Jessica Shepard. On the flip side, Damiris Dantas and Napheesa Collier remain long-term absences.
The Dream will be without a trio of players who all also missed Sunday’s game versus Seattle the last time Atlanta took the court: Monique Billings, Nia Coffey and AD Durr.
How Much to Weigh Urgency?
If you are a narrative bettor, this game screams Minnesota. The Lynx sit at the precipice of their season. They already have 19 losses in a year when teams likely can’t go above 20 or 21 if they want to be in the postseason.
Five of the final seven games for the Lynx are on the road, with three coming against The Big Five. They face an uphill battle to say the least.
Atlanta, on the other hand, is playing with a bit of house money as we have noted throughout the season. This was supposed to be a rebuilding season and in many ways they have already had what would be considered a successful season. Of course, no athlete is ever going to think that way, but they also have a far softer schedule down the stretch than the Lynx. They still have a home game against the Fever, a pair against the Liberty when they might already be eliminated and they play only one of The Big Five in their final eight games. This is definitely not a must-win for Atlanta as they could lose Thursday and still be in pretty good shape for making the postseason. They even get another shot against the Lynx on August 7 that would be the tiebreaker if needed.
The Lynx are returning a pair of vets to the court Thursday, including Sylvia Fowles, who undoubtedly wants every game to matter down the stretch run of her final season in the W.
If you bet on narrative, that’s a whole lot tipping the scales to Minnesota. But I’m not sure I buy into much of that.
I think motivation can certainly matter at the fringes when it comes to betting. I’ll bet a fourth quarter championship under like any red-blooded American, but I tend to think the market overcorrects for these narratives and the best bet is usually to zag.
That being said, this line actually looks to be around the right spot. If both teams were fully healthy (non-Collier), I’d have Atlanta about three points better. Add in home court and I’d get it to about six. Take out the trio of injured players for Atlanta (a team that does surprisingly well with its depth considering its relative youth) plus Dantas’ absence for Minnesota and I’d bring it down to around Atlanta -2.5. The best line for this game is at BetRivers where it is a slightly juiced -1, but I know many folks can’t bet that book, so for many, it’s -1.5. (If you are looking to bet that number, go to FanDuel where it’s -102.)
That’s why I’ll go with a lean to Atlanta but nothing crazy.
Sadly, all the value has been drained out of the total as well, which started at an inflated 165.5, which I pounced on in the app (mandatory plug to follow me there for quicker picks that often get closing line value before I write about them here), but the number is down to 162.5 at most books.
That’s a lot of words for just a lean but hopefully seeing the logic spelled out helps folks become better bettors, which is always the goal here. (Or worst case, it just gives a peak into my overthinking …)
Lean: Atlanta -1 .5
Storm vs. Sun
|Moneyline||+124 / -152|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
A trio of players are out for the season. For Seattle, it’s Mercedes Russell. For Connecticut, it’s Bria Hartley, who sadly joined Jasmine Thomas with a nasty torn ACL in the Sun’s most recent game.
A Slight paper Tiger?
As of right now, you can get Connecticut Sun title odds at a longer number than the Seattle Storm, which seems a little wild. The Sun have a better record, a better net rating and have played a harder schedule this year.
The logic is likely tied to Tina Charles being added to the Storm and potentially the idea that a team led by Breanna Stewart just isn’t going to lose come playoff time (which, fair). However, I think Seattle might be slightly overrated right now — at least as it relates to betting them down the stretch run.
Per Basketball-Reference, Seattle has played the easiest schedule in the W this season. Despite that, they have the lowest net rating of any of The Big Five, due in part to an offense that gets surprisingly bogged down at times considering the amount of offensive talent on the roster.
The Storm have only played six games against the rest of The Big Five this season and are 3-3 in those games. They’ll get plenty of testing down the stretch, though, as six(!) of their final eight games come against fellow Big Five teams. I am very curious to see how they handle that gauntlet.
For comparison’s sake, Connecticut has already played fellow Big Five teams 10 times and has a similar 5-5 record.
Connecticut has also had issues on the offensive side at times this season, stalling out in part due to an inability to keep the guards healthy. The team signed Kiana Williams on Wednesday in an effort to find a guard who can avoid the injury plague that has been hitting their point people all season.
One good sign for the Sun, though, is that Jonquel Jones got a bit of unintentional rest while missing time due to COVID-19. I think that might actually be a good thing for the Sun, who need their megastar to be as fresh as possible down stretch run and into the postseason.
Add in the fact that the Sun should be able to hit the glass against Seattle and that the Storm have been far more human on the road this season and I lean to the Sun. I do think this should be a really fun game and since I lean toward the under (I had it as a recommended play before it dropped three points since opening) I’m going to play the moneyline route on Connecticut.
Pick: Connecticut -152 (play to -160)
Mystics vs. Wings
|Moneyline||+100 / -120|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
The big news here is that Elena Delle Donne will be missing her first game since the All-Star Break, a planned rest before Washington‘s big double dip against the Storm this weekend.
On the Dallas side of things, they have a pair of doubtful players in Satou Sabally and Awak Kuier.
Can I Bet Neither of Them, Please?
I’m going to be honest, this game doesn’t have a whole lot of appeal to me either from a viewing or betting perspective. Even with Delle Donne, the Mystics manage to drain the fun out of a lot of games. Sure, their defense is awesome and who doesn’t love the sweet stroke of Ariel Atkins, but in a league that rarely feels dull, I sometimes feel myself zoning out during Mystics games.
On the other side of things, the Wings have quietly stunk since a fast start. The team started 5-2 with wins over the Mystics and the Sun, but are just 7-13 since and are making me and my preseason “Dallas +200 to make the postseason” bet a little nervous.
Add in the fact that Dallas is going to struggle to get to the line or hit the offensive glass against the disciplined defense of Washington and I’d give the smallest lean toward Washington on Thursday.
Sadly the total isn’t a whole lot more enticing. My initial lean was to the under, especially with Delle Donne out, but the over has been far more profitable on closing lines than unders this season in the W. Dallas has been a big part of that, with a 12.4% ROI on just betting their overs this season. Of course, the Mystics are the lone team on which it would’ve been profitable to bet the under every time this season and it’s not surprising when you see their anaconda-like strangulation on the defensive end each night.
I started this section by asking if I could bet neither team and you know what the beauty of that is? I can! I know we are now three-quarters of the way through the preview and all you’ve gotten is one pick, one lean and one stay away, but I promise you the final game has some fireworks.
Plus, you never want to force a bet when it doesn’t have value!
Pick: Stay away
Sparks vs. Mercury
|Moneyline||+143 / -170|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
The Sparks injury report this season has been a longer read than War and Peace (which would be a decent title for this Sparks season as a whole …) and Thursday is no different. Chiney Ogwumike and Lexie Brown will return to action, while Kristi Tolliver, Rae Burrell, and she of the funny tweets, Amanda Zahui B. remain out.
For the Mercury, there is somewhat hopeful news on the Brittney Griner front, but of course she will not be on the court any time soon and that is clearly a very secondary thought. The Mercury also remain without Kia Nurse and Diamond DeShields, who will be missing her third straight game with a hip injury.
Addition by Subtraction?
Los Angeles has been the center of the WNBA world the past few days (well, off the court at least). Liz Cambage is officially no longer a member of the same team she declared to be her dream destination.
Of course, it’s easy to dunk on Cambage from all the way over here, but she is clearly one of the most talented, but mercurial, players to have ever graced the WNBA.
The natural question then becomes: Is this addition by subtraction? Ironically, the Sparks may have a proof of concept staring them in the face on Thursday. The Phoenix Mercury are 6-4 since their own talented post player (Tina Charles) chose to leave the team about a month ago in somewhat similar circumstances.
In the long-term, I think it will almost certainly be a positive for the Sparks. Cambage’s game really didn’t fit the rest of the roster and despite her talent, her numbers (and impact) were a far cry from the 2018 season (23 and 10 on 59% from the floor) many of us think of when we hear the name Cambage.
The Sparks played two games without Cambage this season and neither was all that impressive. They put up just 68 points in a loss to Chicago and won by just seven over the Fever, who hadn’t had a loss that close in over a month. (Side note: Wow, that team is bad.)
This is another game that could be tricky to model with all the movement in and out of both rotations, but I actually do have a definitive play and a couple game scripts for you to consider.
The play I like is the over. It opened at 163.5 and I logged that in the app, so hopefully you grabbed it then. I still like it at 164.5, where it is at most books now and even up to 167.5. These are two of the absolute worst defenses in the W and with Cambage gone, the Sparks should play a much faster and more open style — a style similar to the Mercury since losing Charles.
Betting the over has been profitable for both of these teams in 2022, with the Sparks the most profitable over in the league this season (15.4% ROI). The Sparks three-point defense has been terrible all season and the Mercury have taken to straight chucking threes at this point. That leads me to the two game scripts I see possible: The Mercury make their threes or the Mercury miss their threes.
Ok, I’m being a bit glib, but this does seem like a high-variance game, which leads me in one direction: Alternate lines.
I know the true pros avoid alternate lines like the plague and hate paying for points on these alts and I typically heed this advice. But I do dip a toe into the waters sometimes with teams as high variance as these two. Caesars currently allows you to bet Phoenix up to -13.5 (+335) and L.A. up to -6.5 (+285). It leaves plenty of room for being middled with the most likely result, but this has been a very safe preview article so far, so screw it, let’s have some fun!
Definitely make sure to shop these for the best value ( I don’t think there’s a huge rush on these alts, so feel free to be patient), because only Caesars and MGM have these alt lines out right now. I’ll be posting the best I can find in the app as well, so feel free to just follow that way.
Pick: Over 164.5 (up to 167.5) and L.A. -6.5 (+285)
Lean: Phoenix -13.5 (+335)