New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces Expert Pick – October 8, 2023
NEW YORK LIBERTY VS. LAS VEGAS ACES EXPERT PICK – OCTOBER 8, 2023 – Happy Sunday basketball fans. Welcome back to our WNBA playoffs coverage here at Godzilla Wins. After a 40-game regular season and two rounds of postseason play, there are only two teams still standing.
Ironically, those teams finished with the first and second-best records in the association. The New York Liberty finished 32-8, while the defending champion Las Vegas Aces finished 34-6. Another noteworthy fact about this matchup is that these teams split their four-game season series against one other.
That means that this series could go either way. With that being said, let’s look at which team has the edge going into the series opener of the WNBA Finals and why.
New York Liberty
Las Vegas Aces
When: Sunday, October 8, 2023 at 3:00 PM ET
Where: Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces – Regular Season/Postseason Recap And Betting Trends
New York Liberty Are Not A Team That Can Be Taken Lightly
The New York Liberty set a franchise record with 32 wins during the regular season. They also defeated the Aces in the Commissioner’s Cup by an 82-63 margin back on August 15.
The Liberty swept the Washington Mystics in the opening round of the playoffs. However, the Connecticut Sun upended New York in Game 1 of the semifinals to the tune of 78-63.
Despite that setback, though, New York rattled off three consecutive wins to punch their ticket to the Finals. The last time the team accomplished this feat was 2002.
Breanna Stewart, who signed with the team during the offseason, leads New York in scoring during the playoffs with 19.8 points per contest. Although Stewart was named the league MVP for the second time in her career, she has struggled since the playoffs began.
During the regular season, she averaged a career-best 23 points per contest on 46.5 percent shooting from the field and 36.5 percent from distance. But in six postseason contests, the narrative has been noticeably different. Not only has her scoring output dipped, but she is shooting just 35.6 percent from the field and an abysmal 20.7 percent from long range. Fortunately, Stewart has gotten some help from a few of her teammates.
Betnijah Laney is averaging 17 points per contest on 48.2 percent shooting from the field and 43.8 percent from the 3-point line. Jonquel Jones provides the Liberty with yet another scoring option as she is averaging 16.5 points and 12.8 rebounds per contest on 53.1 percent shooting from the field.
Let us not forget about Sabrina Ionescu, who is averaging 16.3 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting from the floor and she is shooting 43.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Aces Looking To Become First Team To Repeat Since 2001-02 Los Angeles Sparks
Just like the Liberty, the Aces’ 34 wins were also a franchise record. This team played exceptionally well during the regular season, and that trend has carried over into the playoffs as well.
They swept the Chicago Sky in the first round of the playoffs. While the Dallas Wings were a more formidable opponent than the Sky, the Aces swept them in three games, enabling this squad to advance to the Finals for the second straight season.
When it comes to the Aces, there is not a lot they don’t do well. Their 86.2 points-per-game scoring average is tops out of the eight teams that qualified for the postseason. Here are a few other noteworthy offensive stats.
- Overall shooting: 45.2 percent – 2nd
- Three-point shooting: 35.8 percent – 3rd
- Free-throw shooting: 89.1 percent – 1st
- Rebounds per game: 39.8 – 1st
- Point differential: 14.7 – 1st
As good as those numbers are, Las Vegas is just as good at the other end of the floor. They lead the field in points allowed, giving up just 71.4 points per contest. Las Vegas is ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively in opponent field goal shooting (36.8 percent) and opponent 3-point shooting (31.4 percent).
As you would expect, the Aces come into this matchup with a balanced scoring attack as well. Let’s start with A’ja Wilson – who finished third in the MVP voting this season.
During the regular season, Wilson posted career-highs in points (22.8), rebounds (9.5), and blocks (2.2). She shot 55.7 percent from the floor, which is also a career-best for the sixth-year forward.
Unfortunately, for the Liberty, she has not slowed down in these playoffs, either. Wilson leads the Aces in scoring (25.8 PPG) and rebounding (11.2). She is also shooting an efficient 59.5 percent from the field and she is averaging 3.2 blocks per contest. As I have said in the past, Wilson epitomizes what it takes to be a productive two-way player.
While Wilson is the engine that makes this team go, she too has a group of talented players around her. Chelsea Gray’s per-game averages include 16.0 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.6 rebounds. Kelsey Plum is also averaging 16 points per contest on 42.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Last, but certainly not least, is Jackie Young. She is averaging 15.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per contest while knocking down 41.4 percent of her attempts from behind the 3-point line.
Both teams bring a ton to the table and it would not be surprising if the series went the full five games. Now that we have set the table for this matchup, here are the betting trends for the Liberty and Aces.
The Las Vegas Aces are favored to win this contest by five points. Here are a few trends that suggest why going with the defending champs to cover is the smart play.
- New York is 2-6 ATS in their last eight games overall.
- The Liberty are 1-4 ATS in their last five matchups against teams that had a winning record.
- New York is just 2-10 ATS in its last 12 road contests against Las Vegas.
- The Aces are 4-1 ATS the last five times they played on three days or more of rest.
- Las Vegas is 6-2 ATS in their last eight games that were played on a Sunday.
Prediction: Las Vegas Aces (-5)
The projected over/under total for this contest opened at 172 points. The line has moved slightly to 171. While both teams are averaging a combined 170.5 points per outing, I have come across some trends that strongly support both sides of this equation.
- The OVER total is 4-0 for the Liberty in their last four matchups against Western Conference teams.
- The OVER total has prevailed seven times in New York’s last eight games overall.
- The OVER has hit for the Liberty five times in their last six road games.
- The OVER is an impressive 8-3 for New York in its last 11 matchups against teams with a winning record.
Now, here is the other side of the coin.
- The UNDER is 3-1-1 in Las Vegas’ last five games overall.
- The UNDER is 4-1 in the Aces’ last five WNBA Finals games.
- In the Aces’ last five games following an SU win, the UNDER is 3-1-1.
- Lastly, the UNDER is 7-3-1 for Las Vegas in its last 11 home games.
Although I am not totally comfortable doing so, I am going to ride the OVER in the series opener.
Prediction: OVER 171 points
Player Prop Bets
For those of you who have been following our regular season and playoffs coverage, my key players in this game will not come as a shock to anyone.
My first key player to watch is A’ja Wilson, who has been the league’s best player during these playoffs. She currently has -120 odds of scoring more than 23.5 points and -110 odds of scoring less than 23.5 points.
Wilson is averaging 25.8 points per contest in the postseason, and she has put up 30-plus points three times in her last four outings. With that in mind, I am going with the OVER for Wilson.
My second key player to watch is Breanna Stewart. How can the league’s MVP not be a key player to watch in any series, right? Stewart currently has -105 odds of scoring more than 23.5 points and -125 odds of scoring less than 23.5 points.
Stewart is averaging 19.8 points per outing in the postseason. Furthermore, Stewart has been held under the 20-point threshold in half of her six playoff games. Simply put, I am going with the UNDER for Stewart.
Spread: Aces (-5)