- Phoenix and New York will battle in one of two first-round matchups to begin the WNBA Playoffs on Thursday, Sept. 23rd
- The Mercury enter as the fifth seed, while the Liberty come into the postseason as the eighth seed
- See below for the latest odds, analysis and the best bet for the game
With postseason play finally here as eight teams atop the WNBA championship odds begin their title chase, a pair of games will take place on Thursday, Sept. 23rd to open up the playoffs with the single-elimination first round.
In the second of two games, the fifth seed Phoenix Mercury will host the eighth seed New York Liberty at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and NBA TV Canada from Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix.
The winner of this game will advance to the single-elimination second round to face either the Minnesota Lynx or the Seattle Storm, while the loser will be sent home after playing in just one playoff game.
Liberty vs Mercury Odds
|New York Liberty||+9.5 (-110)||+390||Over 162.5 (-110)|
|Phoenix Mercury||-9.5 (-110)||-550||Under 162.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Sept. 22nd at FanDuel
Mercury Are Favorites to Advance
Phoenix comes into the game as pretty heavy favorite, which on the surface looks right based on it being the fifth seed compared to New York as the eighth seed. Historically, the fifth-seeded team has come away with a win over the eighth-seeded squad in this opening round game, and that could likely be the case once again on Thursday in Phoenix.
The Mercury ended up grabbing the fifth overall seed in the postseason, with an overall record of 19-13 overall. Although it has lost three games in a row entering the playoffs, Phoenix has won seven of its last 10 games and has been playing well in the home stretch of the year entering Thursday night.
Led by Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi, Phoenix has to be considered a contender. During the regular season, Griner averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 blocks per game, followed by Diggins-Smith with 17.7 points, 5.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals and Taurasi with 15.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds.
Phoenix surprisingly finished the regular season with a below-.500 record of 7-9 at home, so New York could have an opportunity to try and steal one against the Mercury in the first round.
Liberty Try to Pull Off Upset
New York was an unlikely team to reach the playoffs up until the final day of the regular season, earning a spot in the postseason thanks to losses from the Washington Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks to grab the eighth and final seed.
New York enters the playoffs with the eighth seed behind a regular season where it finished 12-20 overall. The Liberty have struggled as of late to round out the summer, falling in eight of their last 10 contests. But with the start of the playoffs comes a fresh start for New York as it tries to pull off an upset against Phoenix.
Leading the way for the Liberty during the regular season was Betnijah Laney with 16.8 points, 5.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Behind her, Natasha Howard has averaged 16.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals, Sami Whitcomb has tallied 11.7 points, five rebounds, 2.7 assists and one steal, and Sabrina Ionescu has averaged 11.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.7 rebounds for New York.
On the road during the season, the Liberty compiled a record of 5-11 in a total of 16 regular season games away from home.
Prediction and Best Bet
In the three-game series between Phoenix and New York during the season, the Mercury owned a 2-1 advantage in that series. The Mercury beat the Liberty on Aug. 25 and Aug. 27 in Brooklyn, with New York claiming the first of those three games on June 13 in Phoenix.
On Thursday in the first round, the Mercury should ride their second-half surge into the playoffs while taking down the Liberty in the single-elimination game. With the win, Phoenix would advance to the second round on Sunday, Sept. 26th to take on fourth seed Seattle at either 3 p.m. ET or 5 p.m. ET in Seattle.
When it comes to the best bet of the night, look at the total set at 162.5 heading into the matchup. These two teams haven’t impressed that much offensively, so this game could be a lower scoring showdown resulting in them combining to finish below that mark set.
- The Pick: Under 162.5 (-110)