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WNBA betting guide: Stock rising for Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream

NaLyssa Smith and the Indiana Fever celebrate Carlos Knox's first win as head coach. (Pepper Robinson/NBAE via Getty Images)

As we close the door on May, the WNBA picture is beginning to come into focus. Almost every player is back from their overseas seasons, and the standings are looking a little bit more like what we expected before the games began.

This means we have more data to work with when placing our WNBA bets, so let’s get into what the numbers have been telling us and what it all might mean going forward.

Team trends

Last time we checked in, every team had already both won and lost against the spread. Now, every team’s already done both at least twice. Despite the parity, some clear tendencies have emerged for certain teams.

Aces covering

Becky Hammon’s masterful coaching job has been well documented, and it’s clearly leading to success on the court. It’s also leading to success for Aces bettors, as Las Vegas is currently 7-2 against the spread.

The Aces will face their toughest test yet against Connecticut on Tuesday night, but considering A’ja Wilson and company have covered the spreads by more than five points per game on average, it’s worth riding them as long as they keep cashing in.

Fever flying

Last time around in this space, we told you how Indiana was playing at a historic tempo. In theory, any time someone is on a historic pace for a certain stat a week into the season, regression is probably coming. It still might be, but it hasn’t hit yet — not even with a midseason coaching change.

In fact, Indiana has been even friendlier to over bettors since our last piece. While essentially maintaining that blazing speed over the last two weeks, the Fever have also played better offense (increasing their points per possession from 93.7 before May 17 to 103.7 since) and worse defense (from 97.4 to 115.5).

The coaching change didn’t seem to change that, as the Sparks and Fever flirted with 200 overall points in Carlos Knox’s first game at the helm last week. Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on Indiana overs as long as this trend keeps up.

Mystics grinding

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Mystics — potentially a less extreme betting version of last year’s Sun. Washington is the only team playing at a slower pace than Connecticut thus far, and Mike Thibault’s defense has been clicking despite the constant rotation flux.

The result? The Mystics have hit the under in eight of their nine games, and have come up more than eight points short of the over/under on average.

As fate would have it, the Fever and the Mystics meet Tuesday, so tune in to see who wins between the unstoppable force and the immovable object. (For what it’s worth, these two teams matched up in the season opener, and at 154 combined points remains the lowest-scoring Fever game this year.)

Connecticut jump balls

If you really want to get into some obscure bets, you can place a bet on which team will score first on BetMGM Sportsbook. Obviously team offensive and defensive strength plays a big part in this, but another factor is who wins the jump ball.

If you go that route, take a look at the Sun. Jonquel Jones has won every opening tip this season, and she won her last eight of the 2021 regular season as well, giving her a streak of 16 straight in the regular season (she only won three of four in Connecticut’s semifinal loss to Chicago).

Tuesday’s game is an interesting test as BetMGM favors Las Vegas to score first given the Aces’ edge in the overall game, but A’ja Wilson has won fewer than half of her jump balls this season. Despite Las Vegas’ overall dominance, they’ve scored first in only four games this year. It may be worth taking a chance on the Sun here.

League trends

Checking on trends we’ve been monitoring

So far, we’ve been keeping an eye on back-to-back unders, fourth-quarter unders, and live second-quarter unders.

Back-to-back unders are just 1-4, but that’s a bit misleading. Two games were a back-to-back for one of the teams, but the other team had a game in between. Both of those went way under. And the total of 153 in the New York/Seattle game went under the opening line, but by tip time the line had dropped to 152.5, so it technically went over. It’s still too early to know if this will be a trend in 2022.

We have a much bigger sample on quarter unders, and while fourth-quarter unders have continued to hover around 50/50, second-quarter unders are still sitting at 60 percent through over 50 games.

Scoring on the upswing

Two weeks ago, unders were 12-9, and the average total was not even 160. Since then, overs have gone 18-10, and the average game score has been 164.5.

Maybe we can partially blame the Fever, but it seems as though the league as a whole has picked up the scoring in recent days.

Futures update

As the season settles in, the title odds haven’t shifted quite as much in recent days. Here are FanDuel’s biggest movers of the last two weeks.

Stock up: Dream (+10000 previous to +6000 current)

These odds haven’t even changed since Atlanta’s thrashing of Phoenix on Sunday, so this number could continue to move in the coming days.

After three straight seasons of porous defense, this year’s Dream squad has done a full 180 in that department, holding opponents to an effective 42.3 field goal percentage. That mark would be fifth best in league history, and the last team to achieve it over a full season was the 2002 Houston Comets.

Stock down: Liberty (+2100 previous to +8000 current)

It’s hard to sugarcoat this one too much. Ever since opening the season with a win over the Sun, the Liberty have looked nothing like what many predicted entering the season.

A seven-game losing streak that includes three losses by 27 or more points is enough to wonder if this team has any hope of turning it around by season’s end.

Best bets tonight

Las Vegas -3.5 vs. Connecticut

Don’t overthink it. The Sun are as tough of an opponent as Las Vegas will face (it’s Connecticut’s first time being an underdog this season), but until further notice, the Aces are on autobet mode.

Besides, as good as Natisha Hiedeman has looked, Connecticut is 1-2 against the spread since Jasmine Thomas went down.

Dallas +1.5 vs. Los Angeles

This is a prime bounce-back spot for the Wings after a blowout loss to the Sun ended an impressive run of three wins in three cities in six days. The Wings have been the better team this year and should be favored here.

Don’t forget to check the injury reports before placing this bet though: Jordin Canada missed the Sparks’ last game, so if she is back for this one, you may be able to get Dallas at a better line.

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.