WNBA Odds, Predictions & Picks For All 3 Tuesday Games (May 18)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Breanna Stewart
The first week of the WNBA season is officially in the books despite a somewhat uneven schedule.
Four teams played twice over the weekend while the other eight teams played just once. Nonetheless, it was a great start to the season as fans were treated to not one, but two game-winning 3-pointers with less than two seconds in the fourth quarter.
Sabrina Ionescu proved that she's worthy of all the hype as she buried a 25-foot 3-pointer with just 0.4 seconds to seal the Liberty's season-opening win over the Fever. Diana Taurasi then followed up that performance with a game-winning 3-pointer of her own with 1.1 seconds left in the Mercury's season-opening victory against the Lynx.
It will take a lot to surpass that opening night, but something tells me these WNBA players are up to the challenge.
We've got three more games on the card for Tuesday, so let's dive in and break it all down.
Projected WNBA Odds
|Click on a matchup to skip ahead
|Lynx at Liberty
|7 p.m. ET
|Mercury at Mystics
|8 p.m. ET
|Aces at Storm
|10 p.m. ET
Lynx vs. Liberty Odds
|-190 / +155
|Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET
|Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via DraftKings.
I previewed these two teams to start the season, so let's start with new developments for both.
Injuries & News
Napheesa Collier returned to Minnesota on Sunday following her season in France with Lattes Montpellier, but she will need to have six negative COVID-19 tests before she's cleared to play, which means she'll miss Tuesday's game.
Rennia Davis (foot) is another Lynx player who is already ruled out, while Natalie Achonwa's status is questionable.
Natasha Howard is not with the Liberty as she's yet to return stateside from playing overseas in Italy. Jocelyn Willoughby is out with a torn Achilles tendon, while Leaonna Odom also has an Achilles injury and is listed as doubtful.
Too Soon To Adjust Liberty's Power Ratings
If you're moving New York up in your power ratings off two wins against the Indiana Fever, then you're likely overvaluing the Liberty.
I don't think the Fever are any better than 10th in the league, nor have they done enough to improve on their weaknesses last season, leading to a .273 winning percentage. That's not to take anything away from New York because I think the Liberty can be as high as a top-four team in this league, but that's when they're at full strength with Howard back in the fold.
The Liberty now have to turn their attention to a Lynx team that came within a whisker of defeating the Mercury if not for Diana Taurasi's heroics.
Yesterday the GMs in the league voted for the player they’d want to take the last shot.
They were right. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/CbQSTEGIVV
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) May 15, 2021
My model has Minnesota as a -2.08 point favorite, which is around the consensus opening number of -2.5. I might come back with a play on New York if the line continues to get bet up — Minnesota is currently -4.5 (shop real-time lines here) — but potential value lies in the total, which opened at 154.5 at Bet365.
Both Minnesota and New York have quality point guards who like to push the ball up and down the court. And both teams are capable of making perimeter shots. That should help the pace of the game, and I project a total of 158.56 points.
When playing a total, it always helps when you have two teams that help contribute to the desired outcome. The Fever shot a combined 6-of-39 (15.4%) from the 3-point line in their two games against New York, while Minnesota shot 5-of-16 (31.3%) in one game against the Mercury.
That was an off night for the Lynx as they have the personnel to shoot even better than that from the perimeter.
Lean: Over 154.5 or better if the line dips back down
Mercury vs. Mystics Odds
|-152 / +125
|Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
|Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via DraftKings.
Injuries & News
Kia Vaughn could be activated on Tuesday as she's been in the league's COVID-19 protocol after returning from competition overseas in Turkey. Bria Hartley's status is less clear after tearing her ACL last August. Her rehab is ongoing and has yet to feature in a game this season.
Washington will be without Myisha Hines-Allen for the second straight game while she undergoes daily COVID-19 testing since returning from overseas.
The Mystics will hope to have former two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne back on the court. She missed the season opener against Chicago as her return to competitive basketball has been delayed by two back surgeries. The next game she plays will be her first since the 2019 WNBA Finals.
Is EDD In Or Out?
This is the trickiest game on the card because of the status of Delle Donne. The fact that Washington is a 3-point underdog makes me doubt that she'll feature in the game.
My model projected Phoenix as a 2.02-point favorite without Delle Donne, but Washington would be a 3.69-point favorite if she were to play. Due to the uncertainty of her status, I would prefer to look to play this game under the total, which is listed as 163.5 at BetMGM as of writing.
Washington is a dominant team on the interior, and I expect the Mystics to continue to play through Tina Charles, who returned after opting out to score 14 points in the season opener.
It won't surprise me if they continue to experience some growing pains early on as they try to decide which brand of basketball better suits them.
Last year, they were ranked fourth with 8.4 3-point field goals per game. And while it's unfair to judge them off one game, they made only four 3-pointers in their opener despite 30 attempts. If you're Mystics head coach Mike Thibault, I'm not sure you want to see that many shots hoisted up behind the 3-point line when you only get a 13.3% return.
Instead, look for Washington to go back to the basics, which means more sets and intensity on the defensive end. That should help slow the pace down, which is something that veteran guard Diana Taurasi and the Mercury won't mind.
Pick: Under 163.5 or better
Best Line: Under 163.5 at BetMGM
Aces vs. Storm Odds
|-110 / -110
|Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
|Odds as of Tuesday and via DraftKings
Injuries & News
Las Vegas will be without Angel McCoughtry for the season after she suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in a preseason game against Los Angeles.
Epiphanny Prince could rejoin the Storm on Thursday if she continues to test negative for COVID-19 after returning from her commitments overseas.
Stewie the GOAT
I believe when Breanna Stewart hangs it up, she'll by far be the greatest WNBA player in history. After only four years in the league, she's already my favorite player of all time.
Her game is very similar to that of Kevin Durant because often she's a mismatch for opponents the way she puts the ball on the floor, shoots from the perimeter and posts up defenders, in addition to being a savvy passer.
Stewart put it all on display and then some in the season opener against the Aces as she scored 28 points, went 3-of-8 (37.5%) from the 3-point line and grabbed 13 rebounds.
There's definitely a healthy competition between the two-time WNBA Finals MVP and A'ja Wilson of the Aces, and it's one which Stewart is unwilling to back down from. Just look at how she and her teammates performed in their 97-83 win over the Aces, despite losing the following players in the offseason:
- Seven-year veteran and three-time WNBA champion Natasha Howard: In 2019, Howard averaged 18.1 points per game but became a defensive leader who took fewer shots last year (9.5 PPG) once Breanna Stewart returned from an Achilles injury last season.
- Alysha Clark (10 points per game in 2020): Left the Storm in free agency after nine seasons to join the Mystics and two-time league MVP EDD.
- 3-point specialist Sami Whitcomb: Shot 38.6% from the 3-point line.
However, Seattle made some trades that may have flown under the radar by bringing in Katie Lou Samuelson and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan.
🚨 TRADE ALERT 🚨
Storm acquires Katie Lou Samuelson, Mikiah “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan; Rights to Stephanie Talbot and two 2022 draft picks. 💪
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) February 10, 2021
I like this trade because both players were not brought in to score the basketball but rather to help the team defensively with the departure of Howard to the Liberty.
Stewart can take care of the scoring, and Jewell Loyd isn't a bad dance partner, either — both players combined to score 50 points against the Aces.
New Faces on the Aces, Same Results
For all the noise the pundits made about an Aces roster that was said to be bolstered with the additions of Chelsea Gray, Riquna Williams, Liz Cambage (opt-out) and Kelsey Plum, I still failed to see much improvement in the most glaring weakness the Aces had last season: Perimeter shooting.
Las Vegas shot just 3-of-12 from the 3-point line, and the fact that the Aces attempted only 12 shots despite losing by double-digits (97-83) tells me that they were never really comfortable in using the 3-point shot to get back in the game.
It's a stark contrast with the Storm, who hoisted 27 3-point attempts while completing 12 field goals (44.4%).
My math might be a little fuzzy sometimes, but I still know that three is always greater than two.
If the Aces continue to struggle from long range, just as they did last year, it would be tough to like their chances against a Storm team that has won all four of the last head-to-head meetings.
Pick: Storm +1.5 or better
Best Line: Storm +1.5 at FanDuel