Phoenix Mercury vs. New York Liberty Expert Pick – June 18, 2023
PHOENIX MERCURY VS. NEW YORK LIBERTY EXPERT PICK – JUNE 18, 2023. Greetings basketball fans. Welcome back to our WNBA coverage here at Godzilla Wins. Before we get started, I would like to take a moment to wish all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day.
One of the games on the Sunday slate includes Phoenix Mercury (2-7) traveling on the road to take on the New York Liberty (6-3). Can the last-place team in the Western Conference pull off an upset win against the team with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference?
Here is a look at which team has the edge going into this matchup and why.
When: Sunday, June 18, 2023 at 12:00 PM ET
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of June 18, 2023
Phoenix Mercury vs. New York Liberty Season Trends
The Phoenix Mercury are not having a good season by any stretch of the imagination. They began their season with back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Sparks and the Chicago Sky. Subsequently, they have dropped five of their last seven contests, including consecutive losses against the Seattle Storm (83-69) and the Washington Mystics (88-69).
From an offensive standpoint, Phoenix is one of the worst ball clubs in the league. The team is ranked 10th in both scoring (78 points per outing) and offensive efficiency (98.3 points per 100 possessions).
As bad as that sounds, the narrative is even dimmer at the defensive end of the court. Phoenix is ranked last in both scoring defense and defensive rating. Given their struggles across the board, I cannot say that I am shocked by their 2-7 record.
New York aiming to bounce back
Meanwhile, in New York’s most recent outing, the team came up a bit short in a disappointing 86-79 loss against the Atlanta Dream on June 13. Marine Johannes led the team’s scoring attack with 18 points and four assists. Betnijah Laney added 17 points, while Breanna Stewart contributed 12 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists.
New York has the second-best scoring offense (85.2 points per game) and offensive rating (106.9 points per 100 possessions). This team also boasts the second-best overall shooting percentage (45.6 percent) and the second-best 3-point shooting (36.8 percent). The Liberty’s plus-5.2-point differential ranks second in the WNBA as well.
Although the Liberty are not a lights-out defensive squad, they are ranked in the top five in both scoring defense and defensive rating. And New York is limiting its opponents to 41 percent shooting per game, which is the second-best mark in the association.
As if the New York Liberty’s stats are not imposing enough, it should be noted that both Brittney Griner (20 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per outing) and Diana Taurasi (15.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per contest) are nursing injuries and their status is day-to-day.
If neither player can suit up, I don’t give the Mercury much of a shot at coming out on top in this one.
Next up, here are my betting trends for this matchup.
The New York Liberty are a 12.5-point favorite in this matchup. That is not a margin I usually feel comfortable getting behind.
However, there are some strong trends that point to the Liberty being able to cover a large spread.
Phoenix is 3-10 against the spread in its last 13 road contests, and 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games overall.
In its last nine matchups against Eastern Conference opponents, the Mercury are just 2-7 ATS.
Phoenix is 1-4 against ATS in its last five games that were played on a Sunday. The team has an identical record in its last five games that were played on one day of rest.
The Mercury failed to cover the spread in each of their last four outings against teams with an overall winning record. New York is 6-3 on the season.
Prediction: New York Liberty (-12.5)
The projected over/under total for this game is 161.5 points. Although Phoenix and New York are allowing a combined 166.2 points per contest, here are a few noteworthy trends that suggest why taking the UNDER is the safe choice.
The UNDER is 3-1-1 in the Mercury’s last five games overall.
In Phoenix’s last 10 games against Eastern Conference opponents, the UNDER total has hit eight times.
The UNDER total has prevailed nine times in Phoenix’s last 11 games when they have played on one day of rest. The team’s most recent outing was Friday.
In head-to-head competition, the UNDER is 5-2 in the last seven matchups in New York and 4-1 overall in the last five meetings between these two teams.
These two teams played against each other three times last season. The UNDER total prevailed in two of those three matchups.
Prediction: UNDER 161.5 points
Player Prop Bet
My key player to watch in this matchup is New York Liberty forward and MVP award contender Breanna Stewart. She is averaging a career-best in points (23.4), rebounds (10.4), assists (3.7), steals (1.8), and blocks (2.3).
Stewart is also shooting 50 percent from the field and an impressive 40 percent from beyond the arc. Both percentages are the second-highest conversion rates of her career.
Since there was no player prop bet data available, I am suggesting going with the OVER if the projected scoring total is 20 points or less, as she has failed to eclipse this threshold only twice this season.
Prediction: Breanna Stewart OVER 20 points
James’s Picks UNDER 161.5 points
New York Liberty (-12.5)
PPB: Breanna Stewart OVER 20 points