Though no Money Line column was written for yesterday, I have to applaud Connecticut for their impressive 96-76 win over a New York team who was playing well coming into last night. The Sun, who are now on a three game win streak, were led by Courtney Williams who has been on an absolute tear lately. Averaging 21.3 points per game on 64% shooting during the win streak, Williams has really embraced her current role of go-to scorer. It seems like after a lot of unlucky breaks early on that the Sun are starting to realize their potential. Now, let’s turn our focus to tonight’s games.
Atlanta Dream (+4.5, -110)
Indiana Fever (-4.5, -110)
Isn’t it funny how the location of the game can affect some teams so much? You could argue that no team’s play fluctuates more depending on if they are home or not than the Indiana Fever. When they are home, Indiana is 4-1, scoring 87.6 points per game. In stark contrast, the team is 0-4 on the road while managing to score just 66 points per game. Anytime I write about the Fever I feel like a broken record player as I repeat the same issues over and over. They don’t have anyone on offense that can consistently take over, their team defense ranks among the worst in the league, and their road play is awful. There is something to be said about a team who can defend their home court though, and Indiana keeps finding ways to do that.
Atlanta, a team whose success has been almost solely because of their defense, found themselves in a shootout against Seattle last time out and actually pulled it out, 91-86 in overtime. Damiris Dantas came off the bench to score 22 points, a new career high, while Layshia Clarendon put together a stat sheet stuffer performance of nine points, eight rebounds and six assists. Both team’s starters played pretty evenly, but Dantas’ play off the bench proved to be the difference maker. Look, Atlanta is not the most talented team in the league, but defensively they get it done (third in the league in defensive rating) and they take care of the ball (third-best turnover percentage).
On a neutral floor, the edge here goes to Atlanta. That being said, the game is in Indiana so it is impossible to ignore the success they have there. I’m going to split this done the middle though and say that Indiana may win the game, but I’ll take the Dream with the 4.5 points and I’ll take the under.
San Antonio Stars (+14.5, -110)
Los Angeles Sparks (-14.5, -110)
Last time the Sparks played, I mentioned how much I struggle picking their games due to their inconsistent play. When I flipped on their game to see them up by 20 in the fourth quarter over the Dallas Wings, I shrugged knowing I had taken Dallas -11.5 and the over. Well, thanks to some late game heroics by the Wings who kept scoring then fouling LA, the final score somehow ended at 96-86, insuring my picks were correct in both categories. The Sparks are another team who, like the Fever, are much better at home than on the road. 4-0 in LA while 1-3 on the road, the Sparks are certainly happy to be playing in Staples Center tonight. Their offensive rating is the best in the league still, while their defensive rating leaves some to be desired (fourth worst). Nneka Ogwumike will likely be a starter in the WNBA All-Star game, while Chelsea Gray is less than a point per game behind Candace Parker from being the second leading scorer on this team. The Sparks are always dangerous and this season is no exception.
The poor Stars. You really have to start wondering when their first win is going to come and if the players can stay motivated. Just nine games in, it already feels safe for San Antonio to start selling A’ja Wilson jerseys in their team store. Sitting at 0-9, the Stars are dead last in offensive rating, defensive rebounding percentage, assist to turnover ratio, turnover percentage, points per game and turnover a game. First overall pick in the 2017 draft Kelsey Plum is still adjusting to the physicality and speed of the league, going scoreless in the Stars’ last game, an 85-81 loss to Chicago. On a positive note, both Kayla McBride and Moriah Jefferson are starting to play well, with McBride looking like a possible All-Star and Jefferson back to playing her normal minutes.
A spread of 14.5 is a remarkably large number, and I’m very tempted to take San Antonio. I’m going to stick with the home team though and bank on the best version of LA taking the court. I’ll take the Sparks and the over.