WNBA Betting Guide: Thursday 9/2/21
The WNBA season is winding down, but that doesn’t mean you have to wrap up watching or betting on the games just yet. Playoff races are heating up, and the teams at the top are jostling for seeding position as the W rushes to the finish line.
That only means we have to get smarter and sharper as we look at the betting lines offered on NBA Finals odds. Which games on tonight should you look to wager on?
Atlanta Dream (+235) at Dallas Wings (-300)
Spread: Wings -6.5
The Atlanta Dream are in absolute freefall, winning just one of the last 14 games they’ve played. This is a team currently still without any of its leaders. Forward Tianna Hawkins (doubtful, undisclosed), guard Crystal Bradford (out, foot), forward Candice Dupree (questionable, back), forward Cheyenne Parker (out, maternity leave), and guard Chennedy Carter (out, suspension) are all on the wrong side of available for Thursday’s game. The Dream currently hold the second-worst offense in the WNBA by Offensive Rating (93.8) and third-worst defense by Defensive Rating (105.5) over their last 10 games.
The Dallas Wings, on the other hand, are fighting to hang onto a shred of playoff hope and will be getting back guard Allisha Gray (probable, concussion) for tonight’s game. Dallas over their last 10 games has the third-best Offensive Rating in the W (104.2) and -- stunningly -- the worst defense in the league (108.5). The Wings, to their credit, dominate the boards with a 52.3% rebound rate thanks to the talents of forwards Isabelle Harrison and Arike Ogunbowale and center Bella Alarie.
With how badly the Dream have done lately, even a 6.5-point spread makes me queasy about betting on their side. As an away underdog, Atlanta are 7-4 against the spread (ATS) but just 5-5-1 ATS when they are getting 5 or more points. The Wings are just 2-2 ATS when favored by 5 or more points themselves, but the total is a scant 158.5. With decent pace expected in this game and two bad defenses, the over is very much in play.
Los Angeles Sparks (+245) at Minnesota Lynx (-320)
Spread: Lynx -6.5
The Minnesota Lynx have been one of the hottest teams in the W of late, winning eight of their last 10 and posting the second-best Defensive Rating (93.3) in that span of time. They’ve won all sorts of ways, as well, outracing the Chicago Sky in a 101-95 barnburner, grinding out the Seattle Storm in a 76-70 deathmatch, and even outlasting the frisky New York Liberty in their most recent contest despite missing playmaking guard Layshia Clarendon (out, leg), forward Damiris Dantas (out, leg), and star center Sylvia Fowles (questionable, shoulder).
Fowles could return for the Lynx tonight, which would make Minnesota a formidable force despite missing the on-ball leadership of Clarendon.
The Los Angeles Sparks are also suffering injuries going into Thursday’s tilt. Guard Kristi Toliver (out, hand) and star forward Chiney Ogwumike (questionable, knee) remain banged up and missed the last game for L.A. Recently the Sparks have played solid defense -- fifth-best in the league by Defensive Rating (97.7) -- but hold the worst Offensive Rating over their last 10 games.
This game could see a total of five starters out, possibly leading to some pretty abysmal offensive play. Combine that with two of the better defenses in the league of late and the under – even on a total of 152.5 – seems like the best way to get a piece of this game. If either Ogwumike or Fowles are confirmed active for their respective teams, I could see getting in on that side of the spread, as well – but not if both are in. The best play is the big number, especially with both units on short rest.
Chicago Sky (+138) at Las Vegas Aces (-170)
Spread: Aces -3.5
The Chicago Sky have averaged 88.8 points per game over their last five contests, with either them or their opposition scoring more than 100 in three of those games. The Sky have seemingly done away with any pretense of trying to play defense, unlike their earlier-season approach -- they have the fourth-worst Defensive Rating in the league over their last 10 games (104.5). The shooting mastery of guards Kahleah Copper, Allie Quigley, and Courtney Vandersloot, paired with the post play of Candace Parker, has elevated Chicago into legitimate playoff competition going forward, giving the Sky the second-best Offensive Rating of late (105.9).
The Las Vegas Aces have slipped a bit recently, dropping some duds against the Connecticut Sun that put their Offensive Rating at 103.1 (fourth-best) over the last 10 games, but they still play aggressive defense (96.9, fourth-best) with twin towering forwards A’ja Wilson and center Liz Cambage (out, illness). The Aces still look like one of the best West teams, but they are trying to stay atop the conference and waltz through Round 1 of the postseason, as opposed to fighting out a middling seed contest.
This game has the highest total on the slate, but the potential of these two teams to score is belied even by the sky-high 169.5 number. Vegas comes in the more rested team, and with a stouter defense, but they will be lacking forwards Dearica Hamby (out, ankle) and Cambage. The numbers say the under is the better play, but I can’t overlook the defensive gap that Cambage’s absence leaves and the scoring tear both teams have been on. I like the over in this matchup, and the Chicago side of the spread (+3.5) is very attractive.