The WNBA season is already flying by as All-Star voting is well underway and the teams are starting to separate themselves. Unfortunately, injuries are also piling up and have become a major factor in handicapping many of the games. I looked at two of the three games on the WNBA slate for Friday, June 17 and gave picks on the spread for each. My picks went 30-22 for a profit of nearly 18 units so far this season and I have a two-unit play on a big favorite tonight.
Chicago Sky vs. Atlanta Dream
The Chicago Sky boast the third-best net rating in the league and a record of 9-4 entering tonight's matchup with the Atlanta Dream. While Atlanta outperformed expectations to start the year with a 7-7 record and top-ranked defense, I'm backing the home favorites to cover the big spread tonight.
The Sky led by as much as 20 in the first matchup between these teams, outscoring Atlanta in the paint by 14 points and in transition by a margin of 12-3 in the road win. Chicago held star rookie Rhyne Howard to just 2-12 shooting from the field and most of Atlanta's success came with Chicago's starters out of the game.
Atlanta's offense averaged the most turnovers in the league so far this year and posted the WNBA's worst offensive rating. Chicago's defense should be able to generate easy transition opportunities for Kahleah Copper, the league's leader in fast-break points per game. The Sky forced live-ball turnovers at the fourth-highest rate so far this season, according to PBP Stats.
Look for a convincing win from the reigning champions as the league's best passing team should be able to generate offense despite Atlanta's stingy defense. Courtney Vandersloot tops the league in assists per game and Candace Parker, Emma Meesseman and Allie Quigley each add value as additional playmakers and scorers.
Atlanta is still missing last year's top returning scorer in Tiffany Hayes and will also be without point guard Erica Wheeler in tonight's matchup. With offseason acquisition Nia Coffey listed as questionable on the team's injury report, the Dream could be down a few key players against a healthy Sky side.
My projections show value in the Sky anywhere under -13 and I grabbed the opening spread of -9 for Chicago. The line is now up to -9.5 and I'd still put two units on the favorites for my best bet of the night.
EDGE: Chicago Sky -9 (2 Units)
Seattle Storm at Connecticut Sun
The Sun won the last meeting between these teams on June 5 but the Storm led by as much as 13 points before Connecticut's comeback. Seattle went 4-1 ATS over the team's last five games at Mohegan Sun Arena and swept the season series against the Sun last season.
Seattle started slow this season with key players missing time due to injury and protocols, but the team is fully healthy and posted a record of 8-2 over the last 10 games. The duo of Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd has been difficult to manage for opposing defenses as both averaged at least 19 points per game over the last eight outings.
Stewart is once again a strong MVP candidate and is on pace for a career-high 22.3 points per game. The superstar's defense has been equally impressive as Stewie is on pace to swipe a career-high 2.5 steals per game.
Earlier this week, Storm legend Sue Bird announced that this season will mark the end of her illustrious WNBA career. As the future Hall of Famer prepares for retirement, there will be a greater sense of urgency around the Storm locker room to send Bird off with another ring. That could give the team a boost headed into tonight's matchup, as the UConn alum will be fired up for her penultimate game in Connecticut.
While the Sun are among the league's most fearsome title contenders, I expect a strong start from Seattle and a tight matchup throughout. I'm staying off Seattle's moneyline tonight but the spread is worth a play at +7.5 or higher.
EDGE: Seattle Storm +7.5 (1 Unit)