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WNBA Championship and First-Round Picks and Odds

WNBA Championship and First-Round Picks and Odds

by Daniel BenjaminAugust 16, 2022

The WNBA playoffs are finally here with a brand new format. There is no single-game series this year as each of the four quarterfinals will be three games with the higher seed serving as hosts. The semifinals and finals will be the best of five.

The race for the 2022 postseason was arguably the most competitive and exciting since the WNBA eliminated conference play for seeding purposes in 2016. As the two top seeds and the last couple of playoff spots weren’t decided until the final day of the regular season.

Las Vegas ended up with the No. 1 seed after holding off Seattle 109-100 on Sunday. Meanwhile, New York secured the seventh spot with a win over Atlanta and a loss by Phoenix. Meanwhile, the Mercury are in the playoffs for the 10th straight year despite being hammered by the Sky in the season-finale as the Lynx weren’t able to complete their comeback over the Sun.

Las Vegas and Chicago have been the best two teams in the league all season long. However, are the Aces and Sky the favorites to win the crown? I believe five teams could eventually claim the title.

Odds To win WNBA Championship

Las Vegas Aces (+175)

The Aces (26-10) finished the regular season as they started, which is red-hot. The Aces enter the postseason on a four-game winning streak, which includes two victories over the Storm and one over the Sky, and having won 8 of 10 overall.

Las Vegas is the league’s highest-scoring and most efficient offensive team. The Aces love to play fast, can score the ball at every level, and have four players averaging at least 13 points a game –led by MVP candidate A’ja Wilson. They are dangerous from beyond the arc, ranking first in 3-point%, second in 3-point makes, and third in 3-point attempts.

Defense can be an issue for the Aces, and it is an even bigger concern now that defensive ace Dearica Hamby is out for the foreseeable future. Guarding the 3-point line is their biggest issue.

Chicago Sky (+200)

Chicago is attempting to become the first team since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001-02 to repeat as champions. The Sky (26-10) tied the Aces for the best record but closed out the season by going 6-4 over the last 10 games, including suffering a 89-78 road loss to Las Vegas.

Chicago is well-balanced – with six players in double-figures –and a relatively deep team. The Sky ranked in the top 5 in the league in both offensive and defensive rating. Shooting is their biggest strength, although they are slightly below average from beyond the arc.

Connecticut Sun (+400)

Connecticut (25-11) earned the third seed as they closed out the season strong, winning 11 of its last 14 games – tying the Aces for the best record post-all-star break. The Sun, who increased their offensive production by five points in the second half of the season, are a very good shooting team, and they take excellent shots.

In addition, Connecticut is the best rebounding team in the league, as they hit the offensive boards extremely hard. Defensively, the Sun do an excellent job forcing turnovers, limiting their opponent’s free throw attempts, and contesting 3-point shots.

Seattle Storm (+600)

Seattle (22-14) went just 7-6 in the second half of the campaign, but only three of the contests were against non-playoff teams. Still, the Storm won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2010-11.

Like Chicago and Connecticut, the Storm have been one of the best defensive teams all season long. The Storm have been terrific at guarding the 3-point line and keeping opponents off the charity strike.

Offensively, Breanna Stewart and Jewel Loyd are the most dangerous inside-outside
duo in the league — with apologies to the Aces’ Wilson and Kelsey Plum. Overall, the Storm are a very good passing team and three outstanding perimeter shooters. Rebounding is a big issue.

Washington Mystics (+850)

The Mystics (22-14) have posted a winning record for the first time in three seasons. While Washington has to be thrilled with their regular season, the Mystics do have to wonder what could have been if Elena Delle Donne, who put up 17.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game in 25 appearances. The Mystics won 18 of those games that Delle Donne played, and they outscored their opponents by 6.3 points in those contests.

Washington was the league’s No. 1 ranked defense all season long. However, there is nothing special about the Mystics’ offense besides Delle Donne, and they have gotten contributions from many people. Myeshia Hines-Allen is expected to be available for the first-round series against Seattle after clearing health and safety protocols.

Dallas Wings (+3300)

The Wings have seen their odds drop from +5000 since earning the sixth seed. Dallas went 8-6 in the second half of the season. The 18 wins are the Wings’ most since 2015.

New York Liberty (+4000)

New York (16-20) needed a win on the final day of the regular season just to get into the playoffs; they entered Sunday with +10000 odds. The Liberty have won three straight and 7 of 10 to post their most victories in five years. Sabrina Ionescu is fun to watch.

Phoenix Mercury (+6000)

The Mercury have backed into the playoffs, losing five of their last seven. Phoenix may not have Skylar Diggins-Smith or Diana Taurasi available for the first round.

Championship Analysis
I truly believe that any of the top 5 seeds can win the championship, but I am going with the Aces to ultimately cut down the nets. While handicappers can still get plus money for wagers on Vegas, the question becomes, is there any value in picking them to win?

If the answer is not really, bettors have options in the Sun, Storm, and Mystics. The question then becomes how much you believe in those three teams. Personally, I like the Sun the best of the rest and think they will fave the Aces in the finals.

First Round Picks and Odds

Chicago vs. New York

Chicago (-545) is a heavy favorite to win the series. The Sky are the best home team in the league, and they took three of four from the Liberty this year, havong won 7 of the last 10 meetings overall. More importantly, they are more balanced offensively than New York and by far the better defensive club.

Best Bet: Chicago in two (-175)

Phoenix vs. Las Vegas

I like the Aces to coast in this one as the Mercury don’t have the firepower to keep up offensively with or without Taurasi and Diggins-Smith. Also, the Mercury were one of the worst road teams in the league, and they were blown out 15 times, by far the most of any of the eight playoff teams.

Best Bet: Las Vegas to sweep (-300)

Dallas vs. Connecticut

Dallas took the regular-season series 2-1, but I believe the Sun will flip the results in the opening round. The Sun are the superior club on the defensive end, and I believe they will be able to control the glass. The Wings may also be without leading-scorer Arike Ogunbowale due to a hip injury.

Best Bet: Connecticut in two (-175)

Seattle vs. Washington

This is the most intriguing series of the opening round. Really want to see Delle Donne and Stewart go toe-to-toe. Loyd and Tina Charles could be the difference for Seattle, take the Storm to keep Sue Bird’s career alive for another playoff round.

Best Bet: Seattle to advance (-165)

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About The Author
Daniel Benjamin