Suddenly, we have ourselves a series. At some point, we’ll have to collectively stop being surprised when the Connecticut Sun drastically ramp up the level of their performance with their backs up against the wall, but it was still jarring to see them jump all over the Las Vegas Aces in Game 3.
They’ll be looking to replicate their performance or something close to it on Sunday as the Sun try to push this series to a decisive Game 5.
Our WNBA picks and predictions for Aces vs. Sun is all about one matchup adjustment Connecticut made that led to their dramatic win, and why there’s an unexpected player prop we like more than any other bet on the board.
Aces vs Sky Game 4 best odds
Aces vs Sky Game 4 picks and predictions
If you’ve been following the Aces throughout their playoff run, you might be wondering if I’ve lost my mind by choosing to bet against Chelsea Gray.
That’s understandable enough on its face, as Gray has put together a postseason for the ages, raising her scoring and efficiency round after round while also shouldering most of the ballhandling duties for Las Vegas. Her scoring has taken a quantum leap from her 2022 regular season average of 13.7 points per game to 21.9, so why bet an Under well below that mark?
It never feels amazing to bet against Chelsea Gray, but it bears closely interrogating her Game 3 performance before you write off the prospect. The main tactical adjustment that Curt Miller and the Connecticut Sun made ahead of Thursday’s game was to have DeWanna Bonner guard Gray. Bonner had been struggling in the series on both ends to that point but showed a dogged physicality, which combined with her significant length, made life extremely difficult on Gray.
Furthermore, the Sun dialed up the intensity on their already aggressive hedge-and-recover defensive scheme. When Gray called for a pick, she drew a hard hedge or a blitz from Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner, and either Brionna Jones or Jonquel Jones were filling the lane to ward off any potential roll by A’ja or another Aces big.
The added length of Bonner clearly bothered Gray throughout the game, and it was the first time she’s looked merely mortal in weeks. If you review Gray’s shot chart for Games 1, 2, and 3, the impact the change in the coverage is having was obvious. Gray only managed three shots inside the 3-point line in Game 3 and only scored one in the paint. Basically, all her buckets were above the break threes, and those were not generated with the same on-ball isolation creation that she’s displayed masterfully throughout the playoffs.
Gray took 10 shots inside the arc in each of the first two games and it's where she did most of her damage. So, this isn’t a matter of missed shots, by putting Bonner on Gray and increasing the aggressiveness of their trapping, they’re pushing Gray into a pure playmaking role and she's finding her scoring more as a perimeter release valve.
No doubt the Aces will adjust and will find better ways to beat the trap, but if the Sun are determined to make someone other than Chelsea Gray beat them, and I think it’s clear they are, whatever solution Becky Hammon conjures up likely won’t see Gray hitting the Over here.
My best bet: Chelsea Gray Under 18.5 points (-114 at FanDuel)
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Aces vs Sky series odds
Aces vs Sky betting preview
•Spread analysis •Over/Under analysis •Game info •Injuries •Trend to know
The betting markets don’t seem to know what to make of Connecticut’s dominating performance in Game 3. The lines have been flitting back and forth between +1.5 and -1.5 Aces, with most books now settling on the latter. That doesn’t indicate to me that there’s great confidence that the Sun have figured the Aces out, so to speak, nor does it seem to be saying that Las Vegas simply had an off night shooting the ball.
And to be clear, I don’t think Game 3 was a shooting variance game. The Connecticut Sun adjusted their game plan and executed it at a much higher level than they had previously. Maybe it’s just as simple as what Bonner said in her interview, that after eight days on the road the Sun were rejuvenated playing at home.
Or the Sun emptied the tank on Thursday to avoid the sweep, and now that the Aces have been bloodied in one game, they resharpen and finish things handily on Sunday. I’d expect the Aces to respond at the start of Game 4, but without knowing if they’ll make major adjustments to beat Connecticut’s trapping scheme against Chelsea Gray, I’m not feeling great about laying on Las Vegas at -1.5.
Where has this Connecticut Sun offense been during the playoffs? The Sun were the No. 2-ranked offense in the WNBA this season but scoring outside of transition has been at best a chore for them through most of the postseason. The Sun have been winning with their defense, which has contributed to the Under hitting on seven of the Sun's last nine games.
Conventional wisdom then has been that the Sun would win by turning this series into an ugly, low-scoring affair... so naturally, they scored 43 buckets on 32 (!) assists on 55.8% from the field, for an eye-popping 105 total points. A lot of these buckets were generated in the half-court against a set Las Vegas defense, who were repeatedly caught napping as Sun players cut backdoor off the ball.
Some of that inattentiveness will have been drilled out of the Aces players in what I imagine was a grueling film session on Friday, but the Sun finally seemed to find their offensive flow by empowering Alyssa Thomas to fully run the show from the forward spot (leading to the first WNBA Finals triple-double in the process).
Could we see A’ja Wilson shift spots to spend more time matched up with Thomas? Or perhaps Dearica Hamby and ratchet up her minutes so the Aces have a stronger interior defense? I’m not sure which route they’ll walk, but I’m confident that Hammon won’t permit the kind of dribble penetration the Aces allowed on Thursday to linger into Sunday’s action.
I’m expecting Las Vegas to show a much greater sense of urgency in Game 4 than they did for most of the previous outing, which is enough for me to lean slightly under at 163.
Aces vs Sky game info
• Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
• Date: Sunday, September 18, 2022
• Tip-off: 4:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Aces vs Sky key injuries
Aces: No key injuries to report.
Sky: No key injuries to report.
Find our latest WNBA injury reports.
Aces vs Sky betting trend to know
The Under is 7-2 in the Sun's last nine games overall. Find more WNBA betting trends for Aces vs. Sky.