The 2022 WNBA Playoffs begin on Wednesday, August 17 with two of the four first-round series tipping off. This postseason includes five elite title contenders along with three teams looking to pull off big upsets. PointsBet Sportsbook released odds on Series Winner and Series Correct Score markets for each series, and I analyzed the matchups and recent changes in the playoff format to find an edge.
The revamped playoff format offers savvy bettors a chance to grab value, since 2022 will be the first season since the WNBA made the change. The higher-seeded team will host the first two games of the best-of-three series, with the deciding game flipping to the road team's court. Home teams won more than 54% of games straight up this season according to Covers so it will be difficult for lower-seeded teams to win without the series going all three games.
Six of the eight playoff teams played better at home than on the road this season, so sportsbooks may be underrating the effects of homecourt advantage and the new playoff changes. There's bound to be exceptions, but I expect to see frequent 2-0 sweeps for the higher-seeded teams or 2-1 upsets for the lower-seeded teams. With that in mind, I looked at each series to pick my favorite Playoff Series Futures of the WNBA postseason's opening round.
Chicago Sky vs. New York Liberty
Three of the four matchups between these squads were decided by single digits this season, so New York could have a chance at stealing a game against the Sky. Rather than taking New York's series price or Game 1 odds, I'm targeting the Playoff Series Correct Score market at PointsBet Sportsbook.
Considering the Liberty moneyline is listed at +275 for Game 1, I see more value in taking the underdogs to win one of the next two games at the same price. New York is finally healthy heading into the playoffs after key pieces of the team's core missed time throughout the season. As the most three-point-reliant team in the W, Liberty games often include more variance than typical WNBA matchups.
Chicago was one of the few teams that played almost as well on the road compared to at home this season, so I'm confident the reigning champions could win a closeout game 3 on the road. The Sky would likely be heavy favorites so there should also be an opportunity to hedge if needed. This is the only series I'm deviating from the strategy outlined above, since New York is a streaky team capable of either torrid runs where the Liberty can't miss from deep or extended cold stretches where nothing seems to fall.
EDGE: Correct Score: Chicago Sky 2-1 +175
Las Vegas Aces vs. Phoenix Mercury
PointsBet Sportsbook lists the Aces as overwhelming favorites for this series, which is justified given the Mercury's availability concerns. In addition to playing without Brittney Griner all year (Free BG!) and parting ways midseason with Tina Charles, last year's scoring leader, Phoenix will likely be without star perimeter players Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith for this series. The Mercury outperformed expectations by even making it to this point considering the circumstances, but I'll be surprised if the Aces drop a game in this series.
Phoenix went just 4-14 on the road this season with an abysmal -9.5 net rating in away games, the second-worst in the WNBA. The Mercury ranked last in rebounding rate this year and allowed opponents to score a league-high 12 second-chance points per game.
Las Vegas is most vulnerable to teams who can knock down a high volume of threes but the Mercury shot the WNBA's second-worst three-point percentage on the season. The Aces won by double-digits in each of the team's three games against Phoenix, including a 20-point win in the most recent home matchup.
I'm not willing to lay the -500 price on Las Vegas to win 2-0, but I do see value in parlaying that line with Connecticut to win 2-0, another one of my favorite bets this postseason. The combined odds of that parlay comes out to -125 on PointsBet, a much more palatable price.
EDGE: Series Correct Score Parlay: Las Vegas Aces 2-0 -500 and Connecticut Sun 2-0 -200 (Combined Odds: -125)
Connecticut Sun vs. Dallas Wings
When looking at the Correct Score market, this is a series where I'm willing to lay the juice at -200 to take Connecticut 2-0. A two-leg parlay with each leg around -595, Connecticut's Game 1 moneyline, would have odds near -275 at PointsBet Sportsbook. The -200 price is better value than an open parlay on the Sun to win two straight home games, and it also beats the -220 line at FanDuel.
The Sun finished the season on an 11-3 run following the All-Star Break and led the league in net rating this season, including a +10.0 net rating at home. Connecticut split the two home matchups against Dallas this season but I expect better accuracy from beyond the arc than the 24.1% three-point mark the Sun put up against the Wings.
Those matchups came early in the year when the Sun needed to adjust after losing point guard Jasmine Thomas to a season-ending knee injury. With Natisha Hiedeman and Courtney Williams solidified as the guards alongside Connecticut's impressive frontcourt, I'm willing to bet on a sweep for the favorites.
EDGE: Series Correct Score: Connecticut Sun -200
Seattle Storm vs. Washington Mystics
This is projected to be the closest series of the first round this postseason and the Series Price market reflects that, as Seattle is the only favorite listed with odds under -500 at PointsBet. I can see this series going either way and I already placed futures on both teams this year, as mentioned in my recent trends article. Whichever way you lean, I'd recommend looking at some of the Series Correct Score markets rather than simply betting on a moneyline or Series Winner.
If you expect the Mystics to win this matchup, I'd target the +300 odds for a Washington 2-1 Correct Score at PointsBet. Since it's unlikely the Mystics can win two straight matchups in Seattle, I think there's more value in the Correct Score market than simply backing Washington's Series Price at +130. The +300 price on the Mystics 2-1 outcome is also better value than the +280 line on the same market at FanDuel.
Seattle backers can also target the Storm 2-0 line of +175 rather than the -164 series price, since the Mystics would likely be favored in a potential Game 3 at home. The Storm posted the second-best home net rating (+8.1) among WNBA teams this season and Seattle went 2-1 when playing Washington despite Elena Delle Donne being available for all three matchups.
Jewell Loyd's performance will be the X-factor for me, since I think both Seattle and Washington's offenses can be too reliant on their respective star forwards at times. Loyd's numbers took a slight dip this season but she's among the most explosive offensive weapons in the league when her shot is falling consistently. If Loyd can get hot in this series, Washington could have a tough time keeping up. I'd lean towards the Storm and take the 2-0 Correct Score odds.
EDGE: Series Correct Score: Seattle Storm 2-0 +175