Two games that were expected to be close battles yesterday gave us one nail biter and a blowout. The Connecticut Sun were able to outlast the Indiana Fever 91-85 on the back of Jonquel Jones and her 29 points, while the Seattle Storm dominated Dallas 89-69. Breanna Stewart was the star of that game, scoring 30 points and pulling down 10 boards. As All-Star break draws closer, there is a lot of jockeying for position in the playoff race, and today’s games have four teams very much in the thick of things.
Washington Mystics (+5.5, -110)
Los Angles Sparks (-5.5, -110)
The Sparks are arguably the hottest team in the league and Nneka Ogwumike continues to play up to her MVP form from last season. Ogwumike actually had a tough night shooting their last time out, an 85-76 win over Atlanta, but Candace Parker had 21 and Chelsea Gray had 20 to help lead the Sparks to their seventh straight win. Gray has truly been the difference making for LA, a team that struggled earlier this season to find a consistent third contributor. Gray is averaging 16.1 PPG on incredible true shooting and effective field goal percentages, 66.4 and 60.8, respectively. During their current win streak, the Sparks lead the league in offensive rating, true shooting and effective field goal shooting, though they are still struggling in the rebounding department. Regardless, with the team shooting as well as they have been, there are less rebounds to get so the Sparks don’t have much to worry about.
More from Atlanta Dream
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, October 19: NCAA shakes up schedules, not scholarships
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 28: All-Rookie team announced
- Women’s Basketball, September 17: NCAA Hoops to start Nov. 25
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 14: Mystics are going dancing
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 10: Dream are (mathematically) stayin’ alive
Washington has quietly compiled the third best record in the league and is two games up on New York for the best record in the East. After demolishing both Chicago and Seattle last week, the Mystics and Liberty played a game that, according to Mystics head coach Mike Thibault, “set basketball back about 20 years“. Both teams struggled to score, but Washington prevailed 67-54 thanks in large part to the play off the bench of Ivory Latta and Tianna Hawkins. The team welcomes back Emma Meesseman who returns stateside after leading her native Belgium national squad to a bronze medal in the EuroBasket qualifier, locking them into the EuroBasket tournament for the first time in history. During their modest three game win streak, the Mystics own the third best offensive rating in the league, but also have the third worst defensive rating.
The first game of a trip to the opposite coast is always a difficult one, but this game could be a great one if both teams are hitting their stride. The Sparks are the favorites for a reason and have a great chance to win this one, but I like the Mystics with those 5.5 points and I’ll take the over.
New York Liberty (-2, -110)
Atlanta Dream (+2, -110)
A team that once had people talking about Michael Cooper as a Coach of the Year candidate, the Atlanta Dream have really come on some hard times. Losers of three straight and six of their last seven, Atlanta simply isn’t doing anything well. Last in the league in both true shooting and effective field goal percentage during the past seven games, well as ranking second to last in defensive rating and rebounding percentage, the lack of multiple stars on this time is starting to show. Tiffany Hayes deserves to start for the East in the All-Star game, but beyond her and her 17.4 PPG there just isn’t enough consistency from the rest of the team.
New York is in a mini-skid having losing two straight and three of four, twice to Connecticut and once to Washington. During that streak, New York has the worst assist-to-turnover percentage in the league, though oddly their points per game and shooting percentages have gone up despite that. The team also is second in rebounding percentage during the past four games, a welcome change for a group that has struggled to rebound well outside of Tina Charles, though her current rebounding percentage of 15.2 is the worst of her career thus far. Epiphanny Prince is still trying to find her footing after returned from playing with her national team in Europe, but I wouldn’t expect the Liberty’s struggles to continue much longer.
Atlanta has proven to be one of the toughest defenses in the league at times, and both teams are desperate for a win. I like the Liberty tonight though, and I will take the under between these two hard nose teams.