The 2023 WNBA champion could be decided on Sunday, October 15. Game 3 is do-or-die for the New York Liberty, as they head home to stave off elimination against the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.
The Liberty looked outmatched on the road, but they’ll be hoping for a home boost and bounce-back performances from their starters to send the series to a Game 4. WNBA odds say this one is virtually a tossup, but the play of the Aces suggests a coronation could be near.
My WNBA picks for the Aces vs. Liberty believe that Jonquel Jones will put in an MVP-caliber performance in Game 3.
Aces vs Liberty Game 3 best odds
Aces vs Liberty Game 3 picks and predictions
The New York Liberty’s offense has cracked under pressure. In the regular season, the Liberty passed the ball at an elite level, ran like hell, and bombed away from outside. And it all began with the play of their guards.
But one thing that has become abundantly clear through two games of this series is the Las Vegas Aces have a significant, at times overwhelming, advantage on the perimeter. While I don’t doubt Sabrina Ionescu could still have a big game coming, the overall play of New York’s backcourt to this point has not been close to good enough.
The Liberty at their best play a freewheeling style predicated on passing, movement, and turning good shots into great ones. The Aces' defensive pressure on the ball has all but snuffed out New York’s offense before it can even get going.
Their physicality, particularly that of their guards, and their ability to mix in blitzing or possessions of zone here and there has Courtney Vandersloot playing hesitantly. Without her ability to get the blender going on offense, N.Y. has to look elsewhere for reliable scoring.
While normally the Liberty would turn to their MVP in Breanna Stewart, Stewie has the single most difficult matchup in the series going head-to-head with Defensive Player of the Year A’ja Wilson. Those two are equally matched in strength, speed, and anticipation which makes Stewie an unreliable bet to be the Liberty’s breakout offensive player.
The Liberty have one clear matchup advantage in the series, and it’s Jonquel Jones vs. Kiah Stokes. Stokes is a great defensive player, but she is not a true big and as such it takes a total team effort to front and deny Jones on the inside. Jones is stronger and longer than any option the Aces can throw at her, and screening and crossmatching have seen her sealing one of the Aces' guards on numerous possessions for easy baskets.
While the Liberty’s shooting has been suspect to this point, the spacing it provides is still legit. When Jones is battling on the boards or posting up, she can do with little pushback from the other Vegas players. One-on-one, Jones can and has scored consistently against the Aces in both games in this series.
In Game 1 Jones went 7 of 12 from the floor for 16 points Jones dialed up the aggression even further by forcing her way to the foul line seven times in Game 2 en route to 22 points. She did so while taking the third-fewest shots on the team, making it clear to Sandy Brondello the path of least resistance in Game 3 will begin by playing through Jonquel even more.
When the Liberty have looked their best against the Aces, Jones has led the way, but even at their worst, she’s found a way to be productive. Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s Game 3, I expect Jonquel to shine.
My best bet: Jonquel Jones Over 15.5 points (-120 at DraftKings)
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Aces vs Liberty Game 3 spread and Over/Under analysis
While the line for Game 3 opened with the Aces as much as -3.5-point favorites, that’s fallen to between -2 and -2.5 at most sportsbooks. While I believe Jones will be the pivot player for the Liberty, their fortunes heavily depend on the play of another of their core starters: Courtney Vandersloot.
Sloot has struggled mightily through two games due to the Aces' ball pressure and her own failing shot confidence. She has also been getting killed on the defensive end. Combined with her inability to make an impact on offense, Coach Brondello is turning to larger doses of Marine Johannes and Kayla Thornton. The Liberty likely won’t cover unless Sloot returns to regular-season form.
Given how she’s played so far, it’s hard to bank on that. New York has faltered against good teams of late overall, now 1-6 against the spread in its last seven matchups against winning teams.
But closing out a team as good as the Liberty on the road is difficult. The Aces have been a historically dominant home team, but middling against the spread on the road — now 1-5 ATS in their last six games away from home.
The total for Sunday’s game is available between 171.5 and 172.5 with little significant movement since opening. The first two games in the series have both seen the Over cash, which now makes five straight in New York’s last five games overall.
While it would be easy to bury the Liberty after the drubbing they received on both ends by the Aces in Game 2, home court can make all the difference. N.Y. is a resilient team, and that resilience largely shows up on the offensive side of the ball.
That’s in part why the Over has cashed in eight straight when New York is coming off an ATS loss this season. Even though playoff series tend to trend toward the Under, because this series has already hit the Over twice without seeing remotely close to the best version of New York’s offense, I’d lean toward another high-scoring affair on Sunday.
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Aces vs Liberty betting trend to know
Liberty are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record. Find more WNBA betting trends for Aces vs. Liberty.
Aces vs Liberty Game 3 game info
|Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
|Sunday, October 15, 2023
|3:00 p.m. ET
Aces vs Liberty Game 3 key injuries
Aces: Candace Parker F (Out), Riquna Williams G (Out),
Liberty: Han Xu C (Out).
Find our latest WNBA injury reports.
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