WNBA best bets, odds and predictions for Friday, May 19th

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WNBA Opening Day Bets

The 2023 WNBA season tips off on Friday with four games. The offseason saw more than a few roster shake ups so I’ll definitely be watching to see how these freshly formed teams, many with new head coaches, look in the first few outings together. 

 

New York Liberty (-3, 162.5) at Washington Mystics

This line opened with New York as a 3.5-point road dog and has flipped to Mystics +3. I think this line has swung too far in the other direction, and wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mystics win this game outright. New York is one of the newly-formed superteams, emphasis on newly. We haven’t see them all play together very much yet, and it may take them a little while to find their rhythm. Once they do, they will be lethal. However, it is worth noting, several of the new Liberty players have played together overseas or for Team USA together. 

Nonetheless, they are playing on the road, against the team with the best defensive rating last season, and the third-shortest championship odds this year. Trust that the Mystics are also acutely aware of all the hype surrounding the Liberty and the Aces this season and may look to make a statement from the jump. Mystics +3 for me. 

Pick: Mystics +3 

Connecticut Sun (-7, 161.5) at Indiana Fever

For the Friday games, this over 161.5 is my favorite play. Both of these teams’ coaches have talked about wanting to play faster. The Fever were 2nd in pace just last year, and while the Sun were 6th, they still made a huge jump up from last (12th) in pace in the season before. We also saw flashes of Alyssa Thomas pushing the pace on the offensive end last season, especially in the absence of Jonquel Jones. 

What may stand in the way of this over is the Fever’s ability to generate offense (dead last in offensive rating last season) and the veteran Sun defense (second in defensive rating last season). In fact just last month, Thomas was named the EuroLeague Women’s Defensive Player of the Year. Fortunately, the Fever were last in defensive rating for the past three seasons, so I’m expecting a fast game with a lot of possessions.

As for the side, I lean with the Sun at -7, but this line opened at 9.5 and I wouldn’t fault anyone who took the Fever at that number. 

Pick: Over 161.5

Chicago Sky at Minnesota Lynx (-5, 162.5)

The Sky have one starter left from last season, their leading scorer, Kahleah Copper. On the other hand. the Lynx are without the incredible and now retired Sylvia Fowles, but Napheesa Collier is back in full force after missing most of last season due to her pregnancy. Both these teams look like they should be in rebuild mode, despite the Sky insisting they are not. Lynx Head Coach, Cheryl Reeves even said, “We know we’ll be a work in progress much of the season.” 

The Sky are also going to be without Isabelle Harrison, who will miss extended time this season due to a knee injury, announced Thursday. Which happens to work in favor of my play for this game: Under 163.5. The Sky will have limited scoring options and the Lynx play solid defense. The Lynx also lost their point guard Moriah Jefferson to the Mercury, so that position may be a question mark for the time being and impact their ability to move the ball effectively. 

Pick: Under 162.5

Phoenix Mercury at Los Angeles Sparks (-2.5, 158.5)

This is the game I’m least interested in betting, but I do lean in favor of the Sparks. The Mercury lack bench depth and will be without their sharp shooter, Sophie Cunningham, who sustained a knee injury during their preseason game last Friday. Still, Diana Taurasi will get her shots in and Brittney Griner will be tough to contend with in the paint, especially with the Sparks missing Azurá Stevens who is listed as out with a back injury. Nevertheless, there’s a new sheriff in town for the Sparks, Head Coach Curt Miller, and if I had to pick a side- it would be his. 

Lean Sparks -2.5