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WNBA playoffs betting odds, picks: Who should you take in the first round?

(Jesse Louie/Just Women’s Sports)

The WNBA playoffs get underway tonight, which means it’s a great time to sit on your couch and watch basketball for four straight hours.

It’s also a great time to place some bets on the games. High-stakes hoops are always fun to watch — with something on the line, it’s only that much more exciting.

If you’re thinking about getting started on sports betting with one of the first-round games tonight, look no further. We’ve taken a look at the numbers to get you set for what to expect.

We’ll refresh you on some of the basics in our breakdown of the matchups below, but for more details on how basketball betting works in general, you can check out our primer.

No. 7 Dallas Wings at No. 6 Chicago Sky (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Remember when the Sky signed Candace Parker and were thrown into the championship contender discussion?

Well, those hopes aren’t dashed, but finishing .500 and getting the exact same No. 6 seed as they did last season probably weren’t part of Chicago’s plans.

On the other side, Vickie Johnson, in her first year as head coach, managed to navigate her young Wings team through several ups and downs and into the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

In terms of the betting lines for this game, sportsbooks like the Sky. PointsBet has the spread set at Chicago -5, meaning that you can bet on the Sky to win by at least six or you can bet on the Wings to come within four (including winning).

So, which side should you take? Dallas won two of the three matchups with Chicago during the regular season, including one in which the Wings’ lead swelled to over 30 in the first half before a late Sky run.

But both teams have faltered since then. The Wings entered the break with a net rating (margin per 100 possessions) of 1.8, which was in the top half of the league. Since returning, that number has fallen to -5.9.

Chicago is in a similar boat. The Sky’s net rating dropped from 3.1 pre-break to -1.3 afterwards, and they have only covered the betting spread in three of their 12 games since the Olympics.

With neither team entering the playoffs on a high note, momentum should be a wash, so talent and experience could be what wins the day. The entire Dallas Wings roster has combined to play 164 career playoff minutes. The Sky have four players who have individually played significantly more than that, including Candace Parker, who has logged ten times that many playoff minutes.

The Dallas franchise is headed in the right direction, but this game is about the Sky exorcising their playoff demons from the last two seasons. Roll with Chicago -5.

PointsBet has the over/under for this matchup at 167, so you can bet on whether the teams will combine for more or fewer than 167 points. Each of the first two matchups between Dallas and Chicago flew by this number — 172 and 191, respectively — but the third fell short at just 156.

Historically, playoff games have tended to be a little slower than regular season ones, but shot-making has also slightly improved in the playoffs. And teams with at least three days of rest have taken advantage of those fresh legs and pushed the pace.

I expect the Sky to get back to their identity as an up-tempo scoring machine while a young Dallas squad tries to match their pace, so I’m taking the over in this one.

No. 8 New York Liberty at No. 5 Phoenix Mercury (10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Somehow, somehow, the New York Liberty are playing playoff basketball tonight.

Never mind that they spent Sunday afternoon hanging out in their living rooms with the rest of us, rooting for two different games to go their way. Never mind that they have the lowest net rating of any playoff team in WNBA history. Never mind that they won two games a season ago.

They’re here.

Tonight, the new kids on the block bring their unique brand of swag to the desert to take on a Mercury team that’s almost paradoxically boring. Phoenix has played in this round in each of the six seasons of the new WNBA playoff format, including four times as the No. 5 seed.

The opener Thursday night isn’t the only game with a massive disparity in playoff experience. While Liberty players collectively have played 829 playoff minutes, just a few more than Wings players, only 17 of those have come from someone other than Sami Whitcomb or Natasha Howard.

And that number dwarfs in comparison to the playoff court time Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi have seen.

The other problem New York may face is keeping Griner out of the paint. The Liberty are perimeter-oriented by design — it’s how their five-out system set the WNBA record for 3-point rate this year.

But on defense, that means their thin front line can run into trouble on the interior at times. New York allowed the second-most shots in the restricted arc during the season and the most since the break.

Combine that with their league-worst turnover rate and the lowest rebounding rate among playoff teams and you have a recipe for an early exit. I’ll take Phoenix -9.5.

As far as the over/under of 165, it starts to get tough to predict. Among all of those obstacles the Liberty face, they should ride what got them here — the 3 ball. They have shooters all over the place, and they are capable of erupting at any moment.

If the Liberty squad that started the season 5-1 on better than 40 percent shooting from deep shows up, this game will easily pass the 170-point mark. But there’s also a version of this Liberty team that shoots 4-for-25 from beyond the arc, like they did in June against Chicago, or 7-for-25, like they did just nine days ago.

It’s because of that variance that I’d probably stay away from betting this total, but if I had to lean one way I’d go with the over due to Phoenix’s league-leading offense since the break and New York’s difficulties matching up on defense.

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

Clark, Martin Square Off in First Pro WNBA Matchup

Kate Martin #20 of the Las Vegas Aces and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever look on during the game
Things looked a little different Saturday night as the former Iowa teammates went head-to-head in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Barcelona Beat Lyon to Win Back-to-Back Champions League Titles

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas celebrating after beating Lyon at the 2024 Champions League final
Ballon d'Or winners Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas helped Barcelona to a second-straight UWCL title on Saturday. (Ramsey Cardy - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

Sun’s Alyssa Thomas Ejected After Flagrant 2 on Sky Rookie Angel Reese

Angel Reese said there were "no hard feelings" stemming from Alyssa Thomas's flagrant foul. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Angel Reese might have gotten knocked down on Saturday, but she got right back up again. 

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas was ejected from the Sun’s 86-82 win over Chicago following a flagrant foul 2 on Reese — the first of her career. While the two were battling for a rebound, Reese took a clothesline hold around the neck courtesy of Thomas before hitting the ground.

After the game, Reese told reporters that there were "no hard feelings" and she appreciated Thomas for playing her hard beneath the basket.

"I know she purposely probably didn’t do it towards me," Reese said. "But just being able to come out there and just be strong and stand on two feet, it was going to be a tough game and that’s what I’m built for. And my teammates had my back throughout the whole game. So I was prepared for it."

She also didn’t buy into the idea that it was a "Welcome to the WNBA" moment, but thanked Thomas "sending a message" because it helped her get back up and "keep pushing."

"It’s not just because I’m a rookie. I’m a player. I’m a basketball player. They don’t give a damn if I’m a rookie. I mean, I want them to come at me every day. I want them to come at everybody," she added. "I mean, they’re not supposed to be nice to me. I hope y’all know that. They’re not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I’m Angel Reese or because I’m a rookie."

Reese finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists over 33 minutes.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

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