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After a tight overtime loss in Game 2, the Chicago Sky are back at home to play Game 3 in front of a sold-out crowd with the WNBA Finals tied at 1-1 against the Phoenix Mercury. Tonight's game will tip off at 9:00 pm ET, and the Sky are favored by 2.5 points at PointsBet Sportsbook with a game total of 165.5.
Chicago finished with the sixth seed after a 16-16 regular season record but flipped the switch in this postseason to earn a trip to the WNBA Finals. After a strong Game 1 win, the Sky had a chance to win Game 2 in regulation and take a commanding 2-0 lead but couldn't capitalize and lost the win and cover in overtime. Phoenix was one spot ahead of the Sky during the regular season in fifth, but went only 7-9 at home compared to 12-4 on the road.
Courtney Vandersloot was named to the All-WNBA Second Team after her sixth consecutive season leading the league in assists. Her defense may be even more important to Chicago's success, as Vandersloot picked up the third most steals per game during the regular season and ranks in the 88th percentile of defensive PPP this postseason. Vandersloot led the team in points (20) and assists (14) in Game 2 but wore a walking boot after the game. While she is not listed on the team's injury report tonight and claims she'll be fine for this series, Chicago needs the future Hall-of-Famer at full strength for tonight's pivotal Game 3. The Sky will also need a better outing from Allie Quigley, who made only three of her 12 three-point attempts in Game 2.
Another WNBA legend will be at full strength tonight as Candace Parker takes the floor for the Sky. Parker made a significant impact in her first season with her hometown team as Chicago went 1-8 in nine games without the star forward during the regular season. Parker excelled as a defensive roamer this postseason and has been a huge part of the Sky's strong playoff defense that only allowed opponents to score 0.863 points per possession, which would have ranked second in the regular season.
While Chicago's veterans are well-known throughout the league, Kahleah Copper raised her profile significantly this season with her first career All-Star nod and a breakout postseason. Copper excels at scoring inside, averaging 10 points in the paint and the third-most points per game around the rim this postseason (excluding post-ups). She also showed off her strong offensive rebounding skills with the third-most put-back possessions this postseason.
Copper's matchup with Sophie Cunningham was heated throughout Game 2 after Cunningham returned from an injury that held her out of Game 1. Cunningham ranked in the 96th percentile of offensive PPP this postseason as the most efficient spot-up shooter in the playoffs, anchored by a 55% mark from three-point territory and this crossover on Chicago's Diamond DeShields.
Diana Taurasi struggled through the first three quarters of Game 2 but erupted for 14 points on four made threes in the fourth quarter and overtime. Taurasi averaged 19.4 points per game this postseason on over 10 three-point attempts per game with a 37% mark from deep. She was fined $25,000 for contact with an official in Game 2, while many fans called for a suspension. I’m interested to see how the officials referee tonight’s game after some controversial calls and no-calls in Game 2.
Brianna Turner was dominant in the last series against Las Vegas but has been limited in the WNBA Finals through two games, with only 7.5 points per game. If she can recapture the form she flashed in Game 3 against the Aces, with 23 points and 17 boards, Chicago will have a tough time stopping the Mercury. Turner is a strong finisher in transition but Phoenix hasn't had enough fast-break opportunities this series so far.
Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith were both selected to the All-WNBA First Team this season largely due to their offensive contributions, but the defense of these stars is a huge part of what helped propel Phoenix to the finals. Griner ranked in the 97th percentile of defensive PPP this season and Diggins-Smith ranked in the 91st percentile. Griner exerted her dominance on both ends of the floor with 29 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in Game 2 while Diggins-Smith earned 13 points, 12 assists, seven boards and a steal.
PointsBet Sportsbook odds show that the Sky in four games is favored for the Series Correct Score at +170, followed by the Mercury in five games (+200), Sky in five games (+375) and Mercury in four games (+450). I'm staying off this market since I already have outstanding futures on Mercury +2600 and the series to go five games at +160.
The series winner line is at -130 for Chicago and even (+100) for Phoenix. I think the line of Chicago -2.5 is fair value for this game, since the Sky seem to be outplaying the Mercury so far this series but Phoenix earned the best road record in the league during the regular season. I'm staying off the spread but I would look for live betting opportunities if either team jumps out to an early lead since I see this game going down to the wire once again.
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