The favorites have gone undefeated thus far to open the WNBA playoffs, but if the Chicago Sky want to keep their season alive, they’ll have to buck that trend when they square off against the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday.
To beat the WNBA odds, they’ll have to put forth a much better performance than they did in Game 1.
The Aces dominated the Sky on Wednesday, seizing command of the game right from the opening tip and never looking back. The Sky looked ill-prepared for the increased pressure of the playoffs, and the champs reminded everyone precisely why they’re the champs.
Our WNBA picks for Game 2 of Sky vs. Aces believe Chelsea Gray is once again going to have a huge role in Las Vegas’ game plan.
Sky vs Aces Game 2 best odds
Sky vs Aces Game 2 picks and predictions
The Las Vegas Aces are a team defined by star power, and as the reigning MVP, A’ja Wilson is deservedly considered both the face of the team and the WNBA at large. However, when it comes to playoff basketball, there’s a strong argument that nobody exerts a greater influence over the Aces offense than Chelsea Gray, aka, the “Point Gawd”.
Gray had another strong regular season, but it'd be easy to forget that it was she who earned Finals MVP honors when the Aces won the championship, not Wilson. She would have been the unanimous choice for the best player in the 2022 playoffs as well if such an award existed.
Gray's numbers in that playoff run were nothing short of outstanding. She averaged 21.7 points, seven assists, and 3.8 rebounds on 61.1% from the field, 54.4% from three, and 83.3% from the foul line. She was in complete command of the Aces' offense and was their go-to scorer in must-have clutch bucket situations.
Her game is built for the playoffs because she combines a preternatural playmaking skill with unrivaled toughness as well as a strong in-between scoring game. Most defenses will live with an opponent taking a defended pull-up two, but just like the other “Point God” Chris Paul, Gray can make an offense hum with that very shot.
Kahleah Copper is about as good of an athletic match on the perimeter as you can find for Gray, but Copper’s workload on the offensive end makes that less true in practice. The Aces have bodies to throw at Copper, can overload to her and pressure her on the ball, and wear her out over the course of the game.
Throughout Game 1, Gray leveraged her incredible strength to bump Copper for separation and put herself in position to score. Whenever Kah instead tried to stay snug to Gray, she would find one of the other Aces guards on a cut or screen to get open for three. She doesn’t need a screen to gain the advantage over Copper, but when she decides to use one, her pick-and-roll artistry is devastating.
The Sky’s other on-ball options including Marina Mabrey and Dana Evans had even less success containing Gray. The Aces have too many weapons to even consider putting two on the ball for more than the odd possession. Chelsea’s passing and size allow her to turn that kind of ball pressure against the defense with Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, or Alysha Clark on the receiving end that’s a losing proposition for Chicago.
Gray also succeeded multiple times in forcing turnovers and getting out on the break. In transition, she pushes the ball hard but rarely forces the issue. If the perfect hit-ahead pass isn’t there she’ll calmly pull up and score from 15 feet while the defense is still backpedaling.
She elevates her game when it matters most, and the beautiful thing is that she doesn’t have to dominate the ball to do it. She’ll beat you with the pass or the shot and will consistently make the play that puts the most pressure on the opposing defense.
Gray has totaled 31 combined points, rebounds, and assists in three straight games, and as we saw in Game 1, her fingerprints are all over every Aces possession come playoff time. Expect Gray to stay busy and productive in Game 2.
My best bet: Chelsea Gray Over 28.5 points + rebounds + assists (-115 at bet365)
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Sky vs Aces Game 2 spread and Over/Under analysis
Sunday’s spread opened as low as -16.5 points in favor of Las Vegas and has climbed as high as -18 at some sportsbooks.
The Sky simply didn’t look ready to play on Wednesday, which is somewhat surprising because they had been playing their best basketball of the season coming into the playoffs. Further, while they’re less experienced than the Aces, this team has core pieces who have been in big playoff games with Copper and Courtney Williams playing major roles.
That speaks to a recurring issue with the Sky. They appear to lose focus with too much time off. They’re now 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games playing on three or more days of rest.
Of course, the Aces also ramped up the intensity. They looked much more like they did to begin the season when no opposing team could hope to hang with them on their home court. As long as they get sufficient rest, it seems fair to expect similar performances from them going forward. I’d lean toward the Aces covering and ending the series on Sunday.
The total has mostly held steady at 170.5, but a few sportsbooks have raised it to 171. That low number is all to do with skepticism toward the Chicago offense. Understandable given that the Sky totaled just 59 points in Game 1.
Still, the Sky are a jump-shooting team that shot 22.7% from three. If that number comes around to something passable, not only would it put more points on the board, but it would also open up their driving game. However, the Aces did a good job limiting their attempts. Both the Sky and Aces took 22 threes, and I’m certain it will be a point of emphasis in Game 2 for Chicago to shoot more.
Las Vegas has been a defensive monster at home this season, however. The Under is 6-2 in their last eight home games, and that’s not because the Aces themselves have struggled to score.
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Sky vs Aces betting trend to know
Sky are 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games playing on three or more days of rest. Find more WNBA betting trends for Sky vs. Aces.
Sky vs Aces Game 2 game info
|Location:||Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas, NV|
|Date:||Sunday, September 17, 2023|
|Tip-off:||3:00 p.m. ET|
Sky vs Aces Game 2 key injuries
Sky: Marina Mabrey G (Questionable), Rebekah Gardner G (Out), Isabelle Harrison F (Out).
Aces: Candace Parker F (Out), Riquna Williams G (Out).
Find our latest WNBA injury reports.
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