All Scores

WNBA playoffs odds, picks: Your betting guide to the semifinals

Connecticut Sun forward Brionna Jones (M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The WNBA semifinals are upon us. Each best-of-five series kicks off Tuesday night with an ESPN2 doubleheader of Game 1s.

Even though the same two teams are playing the entire time, betting can look a bit different for each game of a series. Factors such as home court, momentum and injuries can affect the sportsbook’s lines as well as the outcomes.

In that spirit, rather than just taking a look at Tuesday night’s games, let’s break down the broader numbers and trends to keep in mind for each of these four teams as you put your money down throughout the semifinals.

No. 6 Chicago Sky vs. No. 1 Connecticut Sun

Connecticut has been about as much of a headache for sportsbooks this season as it has been for opponents. Curt Miller has the Sun playing such a deliberate and defensive brand of basketball that they’ve held their opponents to a sub-70 scoring average, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in this league in a decade.

It’s no surprise, then, that Connecticut games have been great for under-bettors. Including the Commissioner’s Cup final, the under has hit in two-thirds of Sun games — 22 of 33 — easily the most of any team in the league.

That’s also the number of games in which Connecticut has covered the betting spread, which leads the WNBA as well. No team has made the sportsbooks look more wrong on the spread or the over/unders than the Sun this year.

Yet, it’s possible that this team might only be getting better. Star forward Alyssa Thomas returned from an Achilles injury near the end of the regular season and got to shake off the rust with some valuable court time after the Sun had wrapped up the No. 1 seed. Adding an All-Star to the best team in the league — that already has the WNBA MVP favorite in Jonquel Jones — doesn’t seem fair.

Then there’s Miller’s playoff track record. Last season, his Sun came within a game of the Finals as the No. 7 seed. The year before that, they were minutes from stealing the championship from the Washington Mystics, one of the best teams ever with arguably the greatest offense of all time.

That track record has shown up in the betting results, too. As strong as Connecticut’s performance against the spread was this year — they outscored it by a league-leading four points per game — that number is over nine in their playoff games over the last two seasons.

If you don’t want to overthink it, there’s an argument to be made for betting on the Sun spread and the under in every Connecticut game. It’s been profitable so far.

So, what can the Sky do to change that?

For starters, they can box out. Chicago came into the playoffs with the worst defensive rebounding rate of any team in the field at 69.0 percent, but through two playoff games, that mark has jumped up to 75.3 percent. That would have been the difference between 10th and third in the regular season.

Keeping that energy on the defensive glass will be critical against a Sun team that led the league in offensive rebounding rate. Chicago will have to speed the game up if it wants to have a chance, and that starts with grabbing the boards and executing outlet passes.

Which leads to the second thing the Sky can do: Push the pace. Connecticut would love nothing more than to slow the game down and keep it in the halfcourt. With transition talent like Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper and Candace Parker on its side, Chicago will have to get out and run to neutralize Connecticut’s staunch halfcourt defense.

Tuesday night’s spread is Connecticut -7 at Caesars Sportsbook, and despite how improved Chicago has looked, I’ll continue to ride with the Sun until they give me a reason not to. Same goes for the totals: I’m going with the under on the line of 152.5 on principle given Connecticut’s record there. It also doesn’t hurt that the Sky and their rejuvenated defense hit the under in both of their playoff matchups.

As a Sky fan, I’d love to be wrong on the series, but I have to go with Connecticut. Chicago has played well enough to steal a game, so I’ll take the Sun in four.

img
Aces point guard Chelsea Gray could be an X-factor in the series. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

No. 5 Phoenix Mercury vs. No. 2 Las Vegas Aces

It’s fitting that on the opposite side of the bracket from the best team for unders, we get the best team for overs — the Las Vegas Aces.

The Aces are the only team whose games have averaged more than a full point over the sportsbook totals, and they also sit atop the league in percentage of games hitting the over at 59 percent.

As the WNBA leaders in both offensive rating and pace, the Aces truly are the anti-Sun in many respects.

One commonality, however, is their interior play. A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage form a dominant frontcourt that rivals that of the Sun. It will be entertaining to watch them match up with Brittney Griner and Co.

While all three regular season meetings between these teams were close, including an overtime game and a last-second finish on the final day of the regular season, the Aces are favored Tuesday night and should be in every game. It’s a position they have become accustomed to: They played just one game as an underdog on PointsBet Sportsbook all season. That came when they traveled to Connecticut in August.

When it comes to betting the totals for this series, it’s important to note that Las Vegas has played at a slower pace in the playoffs over the last two years. While the game in general typically slows down in the playoffs, as the tighter rotations and closer games lead to tired legs, the Aces’ drop in pace from regular season to postseason over that time has essentially doubled that of the rest of the league.

Then again, they didn’t have Chelsea Gray during those runs and didn’t have Kelsey Plum last year either.

On the other side, the Mercury have gone over in both of their playoff games so far, but the first one was by half a point and the second was in overtime. With the top two regular season offenses squaring off, the lines should be high in this series. But tread with caution on the totals early on.

If the Mercury want to pull the upset in the series, or even in Tuesday’s game, they’ll need to win the physicality battle. These were the top two teams in free-throw rate during the regular season as well as the top two in opponent free-throw rate. In other words, both were great at getting to the line and preventing the other team from getting there.

With what they give up in talent and backcourt size in this matchup, the Mercury will need to play clean defense and get Las Vegas in foul trouble on the other end.

They’ll also need to force turnovers, an area in which they were last in the league in the regular season. Given that Las Vegas also had the lowest turnover rate on offense despite its up-tempo style of play, if Phoenix’s guards and wings aren’t aggressive enough, the Aces could feast on offense.

The spread for Tuesday night’s game on Caesars Sportsbook sits at Las Vegas -5.5, and I’ll take the Aces to cover based on the volume of shots they should get up. Their frontcourt gets a lot of love, but I’m looking for the backcourt of Gray, Plum and Jackie Young to show up against the Mercury.

I also lean toward the over on the line of 169.5 given how well both offenses have played this year, although I’d hesitate to put money on that in Game 1 before seeing what this series looks like and how healthy Diana Taurasi looks.

In the series, I like the Aces to sweep, but with at least two of the games coming down to the final minutes.

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.

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.