In a cruel twist of fate, the Las Vegas Aces find their incredible season on life support.
Not only will reigning Finals MVP Chelsea Gray miss tonight's Game 4 — and possibly a decisive Game 5 — due to injury, but so will defensive anchor Kiah Stokes. Suddenly the top-heavy Aces will be reaching deep into their rotation just to field five players.
Momentum and the WNBA odds have now both swung in favor of the New York Liberty, and it will take an all-time performance from A’ja Wilson and Las Vegas to close out the series on Wednesday, October 18.
Our WNBA picks and predictions for Game 4 of Aces vs. Liberty believe the injuries that Vegas suffered will only further bolster the play of Jonquel Jones.
Aces vs Liberty Game 4 best odds
Aces vs Liberty Game 4 picks and predictions
Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to playoff basketball. The Las Vegas Aces were playing their best ball and headed to Brooklyn to finish the job against the New York Liberty. Given how the first two games in the series went, a possible sweep was very much in play.
While the prognosis was always likely to be poor for Chelsea Gray after she left Game 3 in visible agony, it was a complete shock when the Aces announced that Kiah Stokes would also be absent for tonight’s matchup. With Gray in a walking boot and Stokes showing up to Tuesday’s practice on crutches, their return also does not appear imminent.
Game 4 was going to be a tough test for the Aces, even with both players healthy, as the Liberty finally maneuvered the matchups in their favor to slow down what had been an unstoppable avalanche of Aces offense through two games. But defensive adjustments were only partly why the Liberty were able to flip the script on Las Vegas.
The other reason that the Liberty prevailed in Game 3 was Jonquel Jones. Jones was the best player on the court on both ends, posting 27 points on 10-15 shooting to go with outstanding defense.
Jones showcased every aspect of her offensive game. She played the role of point forward by attacking early in transition, she posted up mismatches around the basket, she rolled hard after picks and finished inside, and she sought and made her 3-point shot aggressively. Jones finished 4-7 from downtown, and each shot felt like a body blow to the Aces’ title chances.
And this came against units of players practiced at dealing with Jonquel. Stokes might not have been the ideal matchup for JJ, but she’s way, way better than any non-A’ja Wilson body that Las Vegas can throw at her now. When sealed on a switch, Gray at least had the physicality to fight with Jones down low, or to battle her for a rebound. None of the replacement options for the Aces stand much of a chance.
Becky Hammon could go with Wilson against Jones full-time, but that in turn risks letting Breanna Stewart go off. As good as Jones has been, that prospect is potentially series-ending. There’s a reason that Stewie took home the MVP trophy this year, and nobody other than Wilson stands a chance of slowing her down.
While betting a Liberty cover is tempting, the line has already moved 7.5 points in favor of New York compared to the spread from Game 3. Jonquel’s points prop by contrast has only increased from 16.5 to 17.5.
That Jonquel’s line has only grown a single point for Wednesday — despite Jones’ dominant Game 3 performance and her matchup advantages only continuing to grow — is why I’m backing her for a second game in a row.
My best bet: Jonquel Jones Over 17.5 points (-115 at bet365)
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Aces vs Liberty Game 4 spread and Over/Under analysis
As you would expect, the line for Game 4 has seen by far the most dramatic movement of the WNBA Finals. This line also marks the first time that the Liberty have been favored in a game in the series, first opening shortly after Sunday’s game at -1.5 in favor of New York. Since then, and with the confirmation of Gray’s absence and the shocking addition of Stokes to the injury report, the line has continued to balloon.
If you want to back the Liberty for Wednesday’s game, you’ll be looking at -5.5 to -6 depending on the sportsbook. That does create the opportunity to back an Aces resurgence at a previously unthinkable number, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Even without Gray or Stokes, this was going to be a tough game for Las Vegas because of New York’s defensive adjustments. By shifting Stewart onto Gray and Betnijah Laney onto Jackie Young, Young was held in check, the Liberty could switch the Gray and A’ja pick and rolls and in turn, Sabrina Ionescu was allowed to hide against Stokes who was a non-threat on offense.
Suddenly the Liberty got caught in rotation less, the space they had to cover on each rotation was not as far, and it shrunk the lane for the Aces. Now the Aces will be relying on 40 minutes from their core three of Wilson, Kelsey Plum, and Young while looking for close to that from Sixth Player of the Year Alysha Clark. But the fifth starting spot will fall to a player, whoever Becky Hammon chooses, who has essentially played zero meaningful minutes in the playoffs, and not much more during the regular season.
The Liberty have struggled to cover at home however (1-4 ATS in their last five) and are also 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games following a straight up win. There is a definite possibility of an emotional letdown on their part and for a fiery Aces squad to make this game more competitive than it looks on paper.
The total has seen a similar amount of movement as the spread with Game 4 opening between 170.5 and 171.5 and since falling as much as three points. At time of writing, it’s available between 169 and 168.5 depending on the sportsbook.
Naturally, that drop-off is a direct reflection of the missing personnel. Gray missing the game certainly suggests the Aces offense will have a more difficult time, but Stokes’ absence not only hurts Las Vegas’ defense, it might boost their offense.
Stokes is a non-entity on offense for the most part, and assuming she can handle the minutes load swapping Clark into her spot will open the floor for Wilson and Plum to attack the rim more. The Liberty are also prone to shootouts in their own barn, with the Over going 4-1 in their last five home games.
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Aces vs Liberty betting trend to know
Over is 5-1 in Liberty's last six overall. Find more WNBA betting trends for Aces vs. Liberty.
Aces vs Liberty Game 4 game info
|Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
|Wednesday, October 18, 2023
|8:00 p.m. ET
Aces vs Liberty Game 4 key injuries
Aces: Chelsea Gray G (Out), Kiah Stokes F (Out), Candace Parker F (Out), Riquna Williams G (Out).
Liberty: Han Xu C (Out).
Find our latest WNBA injury reports.
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