WNBA Betting Guide: Tuesday 8/17/21

The totals are where you can find an edge in this five-game, nearly-full WNBA slate. Which ones should you bet on Tuesday?

Betting on the WNBA can be daunting to a newcomer. Even if you’re a longtime hoops fan, the W might look different to you than other pro leagues, and information like lineups and injuries is harder to track.

That’s why we’re here, though: numberFire will help you find the news and data that is the most relevant so that you can get a handle on the day’s games. Our oddsFire section of the site is particularly handy, as it allows you to track line movement and see where the action is coming from on particular games.

Where do my projection model and the betting trends identify value in today’s games? (All odds from NBA Finals odds.)

Minnesota Lynx (+138) at Connecticut Sun (-170)

Spread: Connecticut Sun -3.5
Total: 158.5

The Minnesota Lynx are now on an eight-game win streak, going back to seven games in a row before the All-Star and Olympic breaks. A decisive win on Sunday has star center Sylvia Fowles and guard Napheesa Collier rallying Minnesota into the thick of playoff contention. For the season, the Lynx is 4-2 against the spread (ATS) when playing as an underdog on the road, actually winning those four games outright in each by an ATS points margin of +1.1.

The Connecticut Sun and their towering frontcourt of Jonquel Jones and Brionna Jones seemed to take Thursday’s Commissioner’s Cup loss personally on their way to a 21-point road dismantling of the Dallas Wings on Sunday. They now get to return home, where they have gone 4-2 ATS as favorites, with a +6.0 ATS points margin.

One can make a narrative and statistical case either way on the spread, but the real value seems to be in getting to the under. In the Lynx and Sun’s 12 combined games as road underdogs and home favorites respectively, the under hit eight total times (67%). These teams are also the two slowest by Pace/40 in the W, so while 158.5 is a solid line now, it seems likely to drop before tip-off. I’d get in until the total drops below 157.0.

Dallas Wings (+198) at Chicago Sky (-250)

Spread: Chicago Sky -5.5
Total: 167.5

The second-highest total on the night, the Dallas Wings and Chicago Sky should have a solidly offense-heavy contest with plenty of shooting. Two of the top-three teams in effective field goal percentage (eFG%), Chicago boasts a stronger overall defense, but Dallas holds the more high-powered offense.

What I want to focus on here is Chicago’s 3-4 record ATS as a home favorite by 5 or more points. In those games, Chicago lost to the spread by a -5.0 ATS points margin, while Dallas is 4-0 ATS when they are 5-point or more road ‘dogs with an ATS points margin of +11.8. I would lean to Dallas to cover here, though the Sky has been hot and the Wings just got embarrassed on Sunday, so I don’t feel strongly about playing the side.

In addition, the over is 7-0 for Chicago in these contests (average total of 162.0 points), while the under is 3-1 in Dallas games with this context (average total of 172.3 points). That means this line is pretty darn on, but the under is still very much in play at 167.5. Especially with Dallas one of the slower-paced teams in the league, the Sky could get out to an early lead and coast.

Washington Mystics (+370) at Las Vegas Aces (-520)

Spread: Las Vegas Aces -9.5
Total: 170.5

A fascinating feature of COVID-19 pandemic scheduling has been the reduction of travel in the WNBA using two-game same-opponent series. These “back-to-backs” have resulted in a decrease for game totals by 5.0% in the second game – though there has been little to no difference in the scoring decrease between the teams (home team, -5.0%; away team, -4.9%).

This is important in this contest because the Washington Mystics and Las Vegas Aces just faced off on Sunday’s post-break restart and went under their game total line of 171.5 by 4.5 points, combining for 167. If this trend holds, we should expect the Mystics-Aces total to be about 159 tonight, despite Vegas’s league-leading pace and Washington also in the top half.

In addition, as mentioned before, the Aces have the second-best offense (106.5 offensive rating) and defense (96.3 defensive rating) in the league over the last 10 games. With four of the team’s top six minutes-getters having played in the Olympics, maybe Vegas came into their last game a little more tired than expected. That would explain why they won by just one point against the fourth-worst offensive and second-worst defensive Mystics after Sunday’s spread closed with the Aces as 11.5-point favorites.

All that said, this spread is too close – even at 9.5 – to play one way or the other. If it drops below 7, Vegas is in play on the side; if it rises above 10, Washington is in play again. Otherwise, I’m hammering the under on the total until it gets below 168.

Indiana Fever (+390) at Phoenix Mercury (-550)

Spread: Phoenix Mercury -9.5
Total: 159.5

The Indiana Fever have actually been playing passable basketball in recent days. Despite a league-worst 4-17 overall record, their last 10 games have seen them assemble three of their four wins this year. They’ve done this largely on the back of a 99.0 defensive rating – good for sixth-best in the WNBA. Against the spread, they’ve been even better; the Fever have gone 7-3 ATS over their last 10, with an ATS points margin of +6.0. They’ve also gone 6-4 ATS for the season when underdogs by 9.5 points or more.

The Phoenix Mercury, on the other hand, are bottom-third of the W in defensive rating and just above-average in offensive rating. The Merc have a 3-3 record ATS when favored by 4.0 or more points in 2021 and have not been favored by more than 7.0 points once this year.

Both teams are bottom-half of the league in pace with uneven offenses, so I could see going with the under if the total rises any higher than 160.5. Otherwise, I’m inclined to take the points with the Fever as Indiana begins to get itself back on track.

Atlanta Dream (+142) at Los Angeles Sparks (-176)

Spread: Los Angeles Sparks -3.5
Total: 158.5

There’s a ton of drama going on behind the scenes with the Atlanta Dream and star guard Chennedy Carter, not to mention team leader and forward Tiffany Hayes is out for Tuesday’s game with a knee injury. I’d like the Dream’s side if not for the off-court issues, but their presence (and the fact that a month-long break improved nothing) means

I’m staying away from this game and Atlanta until further notice.