Sparks flew in Game 1 of the WNBA Championship, as a superstar performance by Jackie Young led the Las Vegas Aces to a convincing 99-82 victory over the New York Liberty. With Game 2 on Wednesday, the Liberty approach must-win territory, as the Aces have not lost three straight games since 2020.
WNBA odds once again favor the Aces at home, but there are reasons to still believe in this New York squad.
My WNBA picks for Game 2 of Liberty vs. Aces believe New York will mix in new coverages to contain Young’s scoring.
Liberty vs Aces Game 2 best odds
Liberty vs Aces Game 2 picks and predictions
When the New York Liberty got off to a relatively shaky start this season, it became clear that they had a key weakness opposing teams would look to exploit: The starting backcourt of Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot are not strong defensively. And I mean that both figuratively and literally.
For most opponents, and for most of the year, that weakness could be counterbalanced by virtue of incredible interior defense and rim protection via the combination of Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones. For teams with an ace perimeter scorer, Betnijah Laney could take them on.
Few opponents had so many perimeter scoring options that the weakness at the point of attack by Sabrina and Sloot would become a fatal flaw. But the Las Vegas Aces, the team New York was put together to beat, are too well rounded.
Reigning Finals MVP Chelsea Gray is too strong and too crafty for either Ionescu or Vandersloot to handle, which is why Laney drew her assignment in Game 1. But after Gray, then there is Kelsey Plum. Even if one of Sabrina or Sloot can hang with Plum, or a combination of hard hedging and recovering can limit her drives and pull-up game, that still leaves Jackie Young.
Young is incredibly strong for her size too, and she’s also become one of the best 3-point shooters in the W. That combination allowed her to break out for 26 points on 15 shots in Game 1, something the Liberty cannot afford on Wednesday. But there are reasons to believe Young won’t have a repeat performance.
New York is likely to respond with new levels of cross matching on Wednesday. They can ask for more from 6-foot-1 Kayla Thornton, who played just eight minutes in Game 1, or it can get really radical and shift Stewart onto either Gray or Young, allowing her to plug a hole on the perimeter.
Adding more size and length without sacrificing speed or agility is one surefire way to limit the number of threes Young can attempt. Her big scoring games this season have all seen her take and make a lot of threes, including her 5-for-8 blitz in Game 1. New York has the luxury of adding length on the perimeter without sacrificing much on the interior because Jones can be waiting in drop.
Young’s breakout performance was the story of Game 1, but the Liberty have a lot of options they can turn to now that they’ve seen what it looks like when Jackie gets going. I’m expecting a series of matchup adjustments that seek to deny Young the kind of looks she thrived on in Game 1.
Young is averaging 15.1 points per game over her last 10 outings and has only scored over 18 points in three of those contests. I believe a locked-in New York team keeps a lid on Jackie’s scoring in Game 2.
My best bet: Young Under 18.5 points (+102 at FanDuel)
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Liberty vs Aces Game 2 spread and Over/Under analysis
The spread for Game 2 is in line with that of Game 1 but is available anywhere between -4.5 and -5.5 in favor of Las Vegas depending on the sportsbook. The Aces looked extremely impressive in their Game 1 win, and much of what they did well could be sustainable.
As a team, Vegas finished 54.7% from the field, 40.9% from three, and 87% from the foul line.
While that level of shooting might be due for some regression, the team was generating excellent shots.The Aces were consistently getting good penetration on drives, moving the ball well, and finding cutters and easy buckets at the rim.
Meanwhile, the Liberty have stumbled to a 1-5 against the spread record in their last six games against teams with a winning record. Vegas meanwhile remain indomitable at home, going 4-1 ATS in its last five in Michelob Ultra Arena.
Unlike the variability in the spread, the total for Wednesday is hovering almost uniformly at 171.5. The total for Game 1 easily eclipsed that number at 181, and even with some regression by the Aces, that could easily be made up for by improvement from New York’s offense.
The Liberty were below average from everywhere on the court on Sunday, but they did generate 29 three-point attempts. They hit only nine, and if those go in at closer to a 40% clip, suddenly this line looks way undersold. Jones missed all three of her attempts from outside, critical shots that could help open driving lanes for New York’s guards.
There’s also the potential for Sabrina to get going on offense. The Aces did a nice job of throwing different coverages at her, including blitzing her regularly. The Liberty can be better at responding to the Aces' ball pressure in those spots by repositioning themselves on the floor. If that leads to Sabrina shaking loose, this line goes Over again just as it has in New York’s last four games.
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Liberty vs Aces betting trend to know
The Liberty are 1-5 ATS in their last six games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.. Find more WNBA betting trends for Liberty vs. Aces.
Liberty vs Aces Game 2 game info
|Michelob ULTRA Arena, Paradise, NV
|Wednesday, October 11, 2023
|9:00 p.m. ET
Liberty vs Aces Game 2 key injuries
Liberty: No injuries to report.
Aces: Candace Parker (Out).
Find our latest WNBA injury reports.
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