Illinois sportsbooks have the events of 2014 playing out all over again. That year, the Phoenix Mercury swept the Chicago Sky in what had been Chicago’s only appearance in the championship series at that point. IL sports betting apps expect Phoenix to take a step toward that same result in the WNBA Finals Game 1 on Sunday.
The contest that tips at 2 p.m. on ABC is huge in terms of historical implications for which team will win the series. Sportsbooks could be relying too much on history.
IL sportsbook odds for WNBA Finals Game 1 Sunday
The Mercury are a consensus 3.5- or 4-point favorite for the first game of the series at the Footprint Center. That goes for IL sportsbook lines on the best-of-five series as a whole as well.
|BetRivers Sportsbook||Chicago +4 -112|
Phoenix -4 -114
|Over 166 -113|
Under 166 -113
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Chicago +3.5 -110|
Phoenix -3.5 -110
|Over 166 -110|
Under 166 -110
|FanDuel Sportsbook||Chicago +3.5 -115|
Phoenix -3.5 -105
|Over 166.5 -115|
Under 166.5 -105
|PointsBet Sportsbook||Chicago +3.5 -110|
Phoenix -3.5 -110
|Over 167 -110|
Under 167 -110
The Sky come into this game completely healthy. Chicago has only failed to cover the spread once this postseason and is 2-1 against the spread as a road underdog.
On the moneyline, the recent form looks strong for Phoenix on the surface. The Mercury won all three meetings during the regular season, twice hosting those affairs.
However, a little deeper look at those contests and the injury report for Phoenix reveals a potential opportunity for bettors today. The over line looks like it could be a great value.
Phoenix ‘Nursing’ its backcourt
The Mercury will be without guard Kia Nurse in Game 1, who is suffering a knee injury. Nurse is at least one of, if not Phoenix’s best, on-ball defenders. Additionally, guard Sophie Cunningham is a game-time decision with a strained calf.
That could mean more opportunities for the Sky’s guard rotation and give Chicago more opportunity to operate in the midrange and from a distance, given the presence of Mercury center Brittney Griner in the frontcourt. That, in turn, bodes well for the total going over.
The totals for the three regular-season meetings averaged 168 points, so sportsbooks are pretty much there. However, neither Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi nor Sky forward Candace Parker played in the first two of those three meetings.
In the final game between these two teams that featured both Parker and Taurasi, the final went to 186. Thus, it seems pretty easy to make a case for the Over today. If Taurasi can lead the Mercury to another win, the same goes for Phoenix winning this series.
Percentages go way up for Game 1 winner
Since the WNBA went to a best-of-five Finals in 2005, there has only been one instance in which the home team won the first game of the series but ultimately lost the series. At the same time, teams that play the first game at home and lose have gone 4-3 in those series.
Thus, the numbers are stacked against Chicago if they lose Sunday. IL sportsbooks have the Mercury as the favorite to win the series right now.
BetRivers Sportsbook has a Finals MVP futures market, in which Parker has the shortest odds among Sky players at +400. DraftKings Sportsbook has Series Correct Score and other series props. For example, you can get +750 odds on a Chicago sweep right now.
Given how well the Sky have played this postseason so far, it might be hard to pass on the spread given Phoenix’s backcourt situation and the momentum Chicago has. Taking the Over on the total seems like the safest play, though.