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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.

JWS Launches ‘The Gold Standard’ Hosted by Olympians Kelley O’Hara & Lisa Leslie

the gold standard logo
'The Gold Standard' is just one of three new JWS shows tackling the Summer Olympics.

Just Women's Sports announced three new digital series on Thursday, headlined by The Gold Standard, a new studio show hosted by Olympic gold medalists and women's sports icons Kelley O'Hara and Lisa Leslie.

USWNT and NWSL great O'Hara, a two-time World Cup winner and Olympic gold and bronze medalist, is teaming up with three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, herself a four-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, to bring viewers inside the world of Olympic women's sports. The pair will record each episode in-studio, with a series of special guests joining them throughout the show's run.

An insider's view of the Summer Games

The Gold Standard will debut on July 27th and cover the biggest women's sports stories from the Paris Olympics, giving fans a unique perspective by tapping into the insights and opinions of two legendary Olympians. 

"I know first-hand just how exciting and intense the Olympic Games can be," Leslie told JWS. "This show gives us a chance as athletes to bring fans closer to the experience, by sharing our unique insights into the Games. And with all the momentum we're seeing in women's sports, now is the perfect time to have a show dedicated to the biggest women's sports moments at the Olympic Games." 

"I can still remember watching the '96 Olympics and knowing that I wanted to be on that stage one day," says O'Hara. "Having the chance to compete in the Olympics and win gold was one of the highlights of my career. I'm looking forward to being a fan this time around and getting the chance to share my own perspective on the Games' biggest stories. Having teamed with Just Women's Sports before, I know this will be content that resonates with fans." 

The Gold Standard will live on Just Women's Sports' YouTube page, with select social cuts distributed across JWS digital platforms. The six-episode show will run through August 13th.

uswnt stars kelley o'hara and jaedyn shaw on jws digital series 1v1
1v1 with Kelley O'Hara will focus on USWNT players as they prep for the 2024 Olympics. (Just Women's Sports)

Additional series focus on USWNT's Olympic run

The Gold Standard is just one of three upcoming JWS series designed to invite fans to experience the Summer Games from an Olympian's point of view, with additional series zeroing in on the USWNT's 2024 Olympic run.

Ahead of the opening ceremony, JWS will launch the latest edition of 1v1, with host Kelley O'Hara interviewing three of her USWNT teammates: Emily Sonnett, Jaedyn Shaw, and Rose Lavelle. These peer-to-peer interviews provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the USWNT's preparation for their first major tournament under new manager Emma Hayes.

To round things out, JWS is also bringing back its award-winning series, The 91st. This tournament's edition will be hosted by retired USWNT star and World Cup champion Jessica McDonald alongside noted soccer personalities Jordan Angeli and Duda Pavão. The 91st will follow the USWNT as it looks to go for gold against a stacked international field at the Paris Olympics — including reigning World Cup winners Spain.

Each new digital series leans on the expertise of its accomplished hosts and special guest stars, providing fans with candid, personality-driven commentary surrounding this summer's biggest event.

Costa Rica Holds USWNT to 0-0 Draw in Frustrating Olympic Send-Off

USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan dribbles the ball by Costa Rica forward Melissa Herrera and midfielder Gloriana Villalobos
The USWNT had 12 shots on goal on Tuesday despite failing to find the back of the net. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The USWNT didn't quite get the going away party they were hoping for, settling for a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday in their final tune-up match before the 2024 Olympics kick off next week.

The US produced 26 shots — 12 on target — alongside 67 touches in the box, the most in any match where they failed to convert a single goal since at least 2015, per Opta. Yet they also faced a heroic performance from Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, who tallied 12 saves on the night.

USWNT starters remained mostly intact

After Saturday's win over Mexico, USWNT manager Emma Hayes opted for a very similar starting XI, only swapping Crystal Dunn in for Jenna Nighswonger due to load management.

Named starter Rose Lavelle was a late scratch from the lineup after team warmups, with US Soccer attributing her last-minute absence to "leg tightness." Lavelle was replaced by midfielder Korbin Albert, giving the US a slightly less aggressive attacking edge throughout the match.

Casey Krueger, Lynn Williams, Jaedyn Shaw, Emily Sonnett, and rookie Croix Bethune all got minutes in the second half, coming off the bench to contend with Washington, DC's brutally hot conditions.

USWNT forward Sophia Smith and Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos battle for the ball
Costa Rica managed to fend off the USWNT with a strong defensive low-block. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY)

Costa Rica's low-block spelled trouble

"Listen, if you play a game of percentages or law of averages, we're creating more and more high-quality chances, and we're getting numbers into key areas — we're getting touches in the key areas," Hayes told reporters after the match, calling attention to Costa Rica's strong defensive low-block.

"The last part's the hardest part. And I'm really patient, because I've coached teams that have to break blocks down, and it's the hardest thing to do in coaching," she continued.

Hayes also noted the team's lack of training time under her management: The decorated coach officially joined the US in early June after finishing the WSL season with her previous club, league champs Chelsea FC.

USWNT pose for a picture after their send-off friendly against costa rica at Audi Field
The USWNT's Olympic group stage run kicks off on July 25th. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Where to watch the USWNT's Olympic games

Tuesday's draw is just the second time the USWNT has entered a major tournament off a non-win. Back in 2015, the US embarked on their legendary World Cup campaign after a 0-0 send-off draw with South Korea.

The next time the USWNT takes the pitch will be at the Paris Olympics, where they'll play Zambia on Thursday, July 25th at 3 PM ET. The match will be broadcast live on USA, with streaming options available on Peacock.

The Late Sub Podcast: This Is Sophia Smith’s USWNT Attack Now

Sophia Smith dribbles during the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico on Saturday.
Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico last Saturday. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins breaks down the days leading up to the first USWNT Olympic send-off friendly, discussing player performances, things that worked well on the pitch, and what still needs developing as coach Emma Hayes's team moves towards a crucial Olympic competition set to will dictate the future of the team.

She then sets her sights on the WNBA, previewing WNBA All-Star Weekend and chatting with Gatorade Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Joyce Edwards alongside Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally.

Subscribe to The Late Sub to never miss an episode.

USWNT Looks to Extend Winning Streak in Final Olympic Send-Off

USWNT striker Sophia Smith dribbles through Costa Rican defenders during a 2022 Concacaf W Championship game.
The USWNT last took on Costa Rica at the 2022 Concacaf Championship semifinal. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The USWNT’s last tune-up match before the Olympics has arrived, with the FIFA world No. 5 US looking for an 18th-straight all-time win over No. 44 Costa Rica tonight at Washington, DC's Audi Field.

Just three days after a redemptive 1-0 victory over No. 29 Mexico, head coach Emma Hayes’s Paris-bound roster appears to be finding its stride. Calling Saturday’s win "a step in the right direction," Hayes went on to say, "I think we’re only scratching the surface. I think there’s a lot of layers to go from everyone."

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 13: USWNT coach Emma Hayes stands on the field before a game between Mexico and USWNT
The new-look USWNT is looking to hit its stride after several matches under Hayes. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Hayes's USWNT is still finding its footing

With their first Olympic group stage game against No. 64 Zambia slated for July 25th, the new-look USWNT — which features the youngest roster in 16 years — is working to define its style of play.

While the USWNT’s signature ability to score in transition remains a strong point, the team also acknowledged their shaky first half on Saturday, with midfielder Rose Lavelle commenting that they're "working on being a little more tactically flexible... We’re trying to, as a group, learn how to adjust on the fly and be a little smarter with our adjustments during the games."

The patience required to choose their moments, along with the team’s ability to read and anticipate each other's movements, is clutch to increasing effectiveness in the areas where the USWNT appeared most disjointed against Mexico.

At stake is an Olympic podium finish, where the US hopes to improve on their bronze medal performance in Tokyo — but the team also aims to make a splash amidst their increasingly sophisticated opponents.

Costa Rica captain Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez chases the ball during a match against Panama in 2020.
Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez, Costa Rica's captain, is the only NWSL on their Olympic roster. (Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Rodriguez leads a rising Costa Rica team

If improving offensive unity and production is tonight’s goal, Las Ticas could provide the ideal matchup: In their 17 previous meetings, the USWNT has outscored Costa Rica 90-2 overall.

That said, Costa Rica has switched things up since the sides last met in July 2022, with the US defeating the Central American squad 3-0 in the Concacaf Championship semifinal. Las Ticas competed in the 2023 World Cup and reached the Gold Cup quarterfinals earlier this year, where they narrowly fell to No. 8 Canada in extra time.

Costa Rica is captained by 30-year-old Angel City midfielder Rocky Rodriguez, the lone NWSL player on their roster and, in 2015, the first Costa Rica national to ever score in a Women's World Cup.

In addition to maintaining a perfect record against Costa Rica, the USWNT will look to extend their current unbeaten streak to nine, which includes three shutouts in Hayes’s first three matches at the helm.

Lindsay Horan drinks water before the USWNT's match against Ireland in April 2023.
An excessive heat warning is in effect for Washington, DC today. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images)

Where to watch the USWNT vs. Costa Rica friendly

Expect some hydration breaks due to DC's scorching temperatures during tonight’s 7:30 PM ET match, airing live on TNT and streaming on Peacock.

TruTV and Max will simultaneously air the first-ever USWNT altcast, hosted by retired USWNT star Sam Mewis, former USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, and Men in Blazers founder Roger Bennett.

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