Last Updated: 2019-08-25
The Chicago Sky takes on the Phoenix Mercury in the interconference showdown at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, this Sunday afternoon.
Two teams will meet each other for the second time in 2019, and the Sky outlasted the Mercury 82-75 as 4-point underdogs back in June. Chicago will look for its fourth straight victory over Phoenix, so we expect to see a great battle in Arizona.
The Sky will miss Jantel Lavender (foot) who’s averaging 10.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season. On the other side, the Mercury is struggling with the injuries and will be without Essence Carson (calf), Alanna Smith (ankle), and Sancho Lyttle (knee). Likewise, Diana Taurasi is questionable due to a hamstring injury.
Chicago is listed as a slight 2.5-point favorite with the total at 162.5 points and Phoenix at +115 money line odds.
What’s at Stake?
The Sky is fighting for the No. 4 seed, trailing half a game behind the Los Angeles Sparks. The Mercury is sitting at the 8th spot 3.5 games behind the Sky. Still, Phoenix is 4.5 games ahead of the 9th-placed Indiana, Dallas, and New York.
Chicago had just a day to rest following a surprising 85-78 victory to the Washington Mystics this past Friday. On the other side, Phoenix is coming off an 84-79 defeat at the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday.
Despite all injury problems in Phoenix, the Mercury can count on its two best players this season. Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner are leading the way for the Mercury and will have to put on a strong performance against Chicago.
Griner is averaging 19.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while Bonner is tallying 19.0 points and 7.7 boards per contest. Diana Taurasi played just one game in 2019, so Griner and Bonner got the chance to rise as players and team leaders.
Phoenix mostly relies on a tough defense this season, allowing 75.4 points per game (2nd in the league) on 41.6% shooting from the field (4th). On the other side, the Mercury is scoring 75.9 points per contest (9th) on a 41.5% shooting (also 9th).
It’s a completely different situation with the Sky on the other side. Chicago is tallying 82.6 points a night (2nd in the league) while making 44.3% of its field goals (3rd). However, the Sky’s defense is an issue, surrendering 81.5 points per contest (11th) on a 41.3% shooting from the field (3rd).
Diamond DeShields is leading the way for the Sky with 15.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Allie Quigley is adding 13.6 points and 3.2 boards per contest, while Courtney Vandersloot is posting 11.4 points and 8.9 assists per outing.
Chicago has been playing very well lately, winning ten of its last 13 games overall and covering the spread ten times in that span. On the other side, Phoenix has dropped six of its last 11 contests, but the Mercury is 8-3 ATS in that span.
Although Chicago won its last three encounters with Phoenix, the Mercury is 7-2 straight up and 5-4 ATS in the previous nine H2H matchups in Arizona. The Mercury won its last two home encounters with Atlanta and New York thanks to a solid defense, limiting their rivals below 73 points.
The key factor on Sunday will be the hosts’ defense and how they will respond to Chicago’s fast pace. Phoenix has to slow down the tempo, and the Mercury is averaging 92.1 possessions per 40 minutes (11th in the league), while the Sky is tallying 99.1 possessions per 40 minutes (1st in the league).
I think the Mercury can slow down Chicago’s offense, so I’m backing them to cover. Likewise, the home court could be an important factor. Also, I’m backing the over on the totals even though I hope for a slow tempo. Chicago’s defense is poor, while the over is 3-1 in the last four H2H meetings and 8-1 in the Sky’s previous nine outings.
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