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WNBA betting guide: Take advantage of the Chicago Sky’s hot streak

While Las Vegas is still the championship betting favorite, Chicago’s stock is soaring. (Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA All-Star Game is just days away, which means soon we’ll have betting lines for one of the most unique and exciting women’s basketball events to place your money on. (Who can forget the monumental mistake sportsbooks made for last year’s event?)

For now, we can recap the last several weeks of WNBA regular season action from a betting perspective.

Team trends

Aces stumbling

If the last few weeks have reminded us of anything, it’s that even the best are always vulnerable in sports. The juggernaut Aces, once the clear and undisputed top team in the league, have come back down to earth as of late. They are still the favorites to win the championship, but they’ve generally faded in the betting landscape.

Las Vegas is just 2-9 against the spread since the start of June, and in one of those wins, they covered by a mere 1.5 points. The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for this squad. While it won’t be as restful for the Aces as it will be for most other teams, considering much of their starting lineup will be in the All-Star Game in Chicago, it still should give them a chance to regroup and reset.

Sky surging

Meanwhile, Las Vegas’ Commissioner Cup opponent has been trending in the opposite direction. Chicago has won 11 of its last 13, with the only two losses coming by two points each. In the process, the Sky have cashed their spread bet eight times after beginning the season 2-6 against the spread.

Your next chance to bet on the Sky will come on Wednesday against one of the other hottest teams in the league: Minnesota. These two teams played a fantastic game just over a week ago, in which Courtney Vandersloot won it at the buzzer after the Sky blew a double-digit lead. In spite of the hot streak, letting teams claw their way back in games has been a theme for the Sky, so if they take a big lead early, it could be a good opportunity to bet on the other side.

Dream riding Tiffany Hayes

Tiffany Hayes made her season debut with a bang last week against the Liberty, knocking down four of her six triples and finishing with 21 points. The Dream won outright as 5.5-point underdogs in the process, and followed that up with a blowout upset of Seattle three days later also as 5.5-point underdogs.

After an excellent May and a tough June, the returns of Hayes and Erica Wheeler could mean Atlanta is in store for a big July. Their last game before the break comes against the Mystics, who will have Elena Delle Donne and will almost certainly be favored. Don’t be surprised if Atlanta cashes another underdog moneyline, or at the very least covers for a third straight time since Hayes has returned.

League trends

Checking on trends we’ve been monitoring

While second-quarter unders have faltered, coming down to 51.2 percent on the season (although still 55.9 percent when following a first-quarter over), fourth-quarter unders may be back. The under hit in over 62 percent of fourth quarters last season, but it started out practically 50/50 through 100 games this season: 51-49.

Since then, they have gone 20-7 with one push. That trend is even stronger, albeit in a smaller sample, when looking at the second legs of back-to-backs. Sportsbooks seem to have adjusted for the overall effect of back-to-backs being lower scoring, but they haven’t necessarily adjusted far enough when it comes to the fourth quarters of those games, when players are the most tired. Those unders are 8-2 on the season.

Some totals too low?

A new trend that’s emerging this season is the tendency for low totals to hit the over. Games for which the closing line has been 161 or lower have surpassed that total 36 times and gone under just 18, good for a 67 percent hit rate.

These totals are obviously coming largely from teams that play some combination of great defense, bad offense and slow-paced basketball — teams like the Mystics, the Storm or the Dream — so it makes sense that the lines are low. But if sportsbooks are overvaluing just how slow or defensive these teams are, it gives us a chance to make some money on those overs in the 150s.

Futures update

Here are FanDuel’s biggest movers of the last three weeks.

Stock up: Sky (+440 previous to +300 current)

Chicago’s hot streak hasn’t gone unnoticed by sportsbooks, as their odds have continued to shorten and have passed up the Connecticut Sun. A win over the team the Sky are chasing in the odds — the Aces — certainly didn’t hurt, nor did taking over first place in the standings.

The Storm are a very close second here, mostly thanks to adding Tina Charles during that time frame. Charles has never won a championship, but if she can continue to buy into this “bench alpha” role rather than demanding starter-level minutes and shots that would take away volume from Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, Seattle may be in a good position.

Stock down: Sparks (+6500 previous to +15000 current)

This one is interesting, as Los Angeles has actually been playing fairly well recently. They’ve covered in five straight games, winning four of them outright despite only being favored in one.

However, it also became more and more clear in June that there is a gap between the WNBA’s top five and the rest, and the Sparks are not in that top group. They also fired head coach Derek Fisher in June, so +6500 was probably too short to begin with.

Best bets tonight

Seattle/Indiana over 158.5

Remember when the Fever started the season playing the fastest of any team in league history? Yes, they’ve played at a more reasonable pace since then, but this is still a very low line for any game involving Indiana.

And of course, this falls into the category we talked about above: Lines 161 or below that have gone over two-thirds of the time. Expect this one to be played in the 160s.

Connecticut/Dallas under 163.5

On the other side, you have a line that may have made more sense a few weeks ago, but the Sun offense hasn’t been too impressive over this recent stretch. In fact, Connecticut’s offensive rating of 91.3 over its last five games ranks dead-last in the WNBA over that time.

The first meeting between these two teams finished under this total, and the second one eclipsed it by just a few points thanks to the Sun’s 25-for-27 night at the free throw line. It will probably take something of that magnitude to hit this high of a total again.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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