The WNBA playoffs tip off Wednesday night with the first two games in the best-of-three first round. Here’s a primer to get you ready to watch games and bet on them.
The WNBA has a new playoff format, with the top eight teams from the entire league seeded 1 through 8 and matched up according to those seeds.
The first round is best-of-three, with the better seed hosting the first two games. The third game, if necessary, is at the underdog. That’s followed by best-of-five series for the semifinals and WNBA Finals.
The top seed is the Las Vegas Aces, led by former South Carolina star A’ja Wilson. The Aces franchise, which was an original WNBA team in 1997 as the Utah Starzz and later the San Antonio Silver Stars, has never won a WNBA title before, but the Aces are +165 favorites to lift the trophy this year at Caesars Sportsbook.
If the Aces don’t win it all, however, there’s a distinct possibility of a repeat champion. The Chicago Sky, which beat the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Finals a year ago, is the No. 2 seed and also the second betting favorite at +200. The Mercury, which barely made the playoffs and must open up with a first-round series at Las Vegas, is +7500.
The other teams with home-court advantage in the first round are the next two on the odds board as well: No. 3 seed Connecticut Sun (+430) and No. 4 seed Seattle Storm (+500).
The Storm is -170 favorites in its series against the Washington Mystics — the only first-round series that has a favorite with shorter odds than -600.
How to watch
The playoffs will be aired on a combination of ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and NBA TV. The first two games Wednesday night are on ESPN2 (Sky vs. Liberty, 8 p.m. ET) and ESPN (Mercury-Aces, 10 p.m. ET).
Here’s a complete playoff schedule with TV times.
The team with the best point differential in the league wasn’t one of the two favorites but instead the Connecticut Sun, which won 11 of its final 14 games and can be had at a +430 price.
The Sun was only 1-6 against the Aces and Sky, so this is certainly an underdog pick. But their past two meetings against the Sky — their likely semifinal opponent — were both three-point games, and Connecticut has lost only one game all season by more than eight points, so the Sun figures to be in every game.
Here are the complete futures odds for the WNBA championship via Caesars Sportsbook:
Las Vegas Aces +165
Chicago Sky +200
Connecticut Sun +430
Seattle Storm +500
Washington Mystics +1200
Dallas Wings +5000
New York Liberty +5000
Phoenix Mercury +7500
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