Last Updated: 2019-09-10
The 2019 WNBA Playoffs start with the single-elimination first round Wednesday night. The first game will take place at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois, where the No. 8 seed Phoenix Mercury visit the No. 5 seed Chicago Sky. During the regular season, Chicago defeated Phoenix in all three head-to-head duels including two encounters at Wintrust Arena. However, the single-elimination playoffs are always breathtaking, and you can watch it all on ESPN2.
Phoenix will be without Alanna Smith (ankle), while Chicago listed Jantel Lavender (foot) as questionable.
The Sky opened as 5.5-point favorites with the total at 167.0 points and the Mercury at +160 money line odds. Chicago is 7-1 straight up and 5-3 ATS in its last eight outings as a fave, while Phoenix is 0-5 straight up and 1-4 ATS in its previous five showings as a dog.
What’s at Stake?
This is the biggest game of the season for both Chicago and Phoenix. With the second round of the playoffs on the table, both teams need to bring their best game.
Phoenix enters the postseason on a four-game losing streak. Likewise, the Mercury won just three of their previous ten contests on the road. On the other side, Chicago is coming off a 100-86 defeat at Washington. The Sky won five of their last eight games overall and seven of their previous nine outings at home.
The Chicago Sky dominated the Phoenix Mercury this season, while they are 5-0 straight up and ATS in the last five meetings with Phoenix. Also, Chicago is 3-0 straight up and ATS in its last three home encounters with Phoenix.
After a 7-point win at home in June and an 8-point victory in Phoenix in August, the Sky thrashed off the Mercury 105-78 in Chicago on the first day of September. Six different Sky players scored in double figures including Cheyenne Parker and Astou Ndour who both dropped 18 points on the Mercury. On the other side, Brittney Griner scored 26 points, while DeWanna Bonner added 12 points.
Griner and Bonner are leading the way for the Mercury this season. Griner is averaging 20.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while Bonner is tallying 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds a night. However, these two girls need more help from their teammates if they want to beat the Sky on the road. Diana Taurasi struggled with injuries all season long, while the Mercury’s second unit is not helping too much.
Diamond DeShields is leading the Sky with 16.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Allie Quigley is averaging 13.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest, while Courtney Vandersloot is posting 11.2 points and 9.1 assists per game. Parker and Ndour, who dominate the Mercury ten days ago, are combining for 15.6 points per game.
Chicago is scoring 84.6 points per game (2nd in the league) on 44.8% shooting from the field (3rd). The Sky is allowing 83.3 points per contest (11th in the league) on 41.8% shooting from the field (4th). Phoenix, on the other side, is tallying 76.5 points per game (9th in the league) while making 42.4% of its field goals (6th). The Mercury is surrendering 77.6 points per contest (6th in the league) on 42.2% shooting (5th).
Although the Sky has big defensive issues, their offense should be too much for the Mercury. Courtney Vandersloot is playing in a tremendous form, while Chicago’s second unit will be a strong weapon against Phoenix. Hereof, I’m backing the hosts to win this game and make it to the second round. Chicago is 5-2 ATS in its last seven outings at home, so I think they will cover the spread against the Mercury who are 6-2 ATS in the previous eight outings on the road.
When it comes to the totals, I have to take the over. The visitors will try their best to slow down Chicago’s offense, but the over is 14-1 in the Sky’s last 15 games overall. Also, Chicago’s pace is the fastest in the league with 99.5 possessions per 40 minutes.
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