New York Liberty At Phoenix Mercury WNBA Playoff Betting Preview And Odds – September 23, 2021

Posted By Derek Helling on September 23, 2021

Last week, 2021 Associated Press Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere and her team got a win when they desperately needed to in order to stay alive for a spot in the WNBA postseason. On Thursday, they’ll need to replicate that result to prolong this year’s edition of New York Liberty playoffs.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania sportsbooks have the host Phoenix Mercury as a comfortable favorite to advance instead, however. While Phoenix is loaded with championship-caliber talent, New York might have caught them at the right time.

Odds for the New York Liberty playoffs game Thursday

Sportsbooks haven’t forgotten that this Mercury team won 11 games in a row coming off the Olympic break or that the Mercury won the season series. The lines reflect that Phoenix won the last two meetings between these teams by an average of 18.5 points.

Considering this spread, it’s also worth noting that the Liberty won just eight of their final 10 regular-season contests. A bit deeper look into the numbers reveals why that’s relevant. It seems the opposition has endeavored to take away New York’s greatest strength.

SportsbookSpreadTotalMoneyline
BetAmerica/Twinspires SportsbookNew York +9.5 -112
Phoenix -9.5 -112
Over 165 -112
Under 165 -113
New York +335
Phoenix -455
BetMGM SportsbookNew York +10 -115
Phoenix -10 -105
Over 165.5 -110
Under 165.5 -110
New York +340
Phoenix -450
BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse SportsbookNew York +9.5 -112
Phoenix -9.5 -112
Over 165 -112
Under 165 -113
New York +335
Phoenix -455
Caesars SportsbookNew York +9.5 -110
Phoenix -9.5 -110
Over 165 -110
Under 165 -110
New York +360
Phoenix -475
DraftKings SportsbookNew York +8.5 -105
Phoenix -8.5 -115
Over 165.5 -110
Under 165.5 -110
New York +320
Phoenix -425
FanDuel SportsbookNew York +9.5 -108
Phoenix -9.5 -112
Over 165.5 -110
Under 165.5 -110
New York +390
Phoenix -550
FOX Bet SportsbookNew York +9.5 -110
Phoenix -9.5 -110
Over 165.5 -110
Under 165.5 -110
New York +333
Phoenix -500
PointsBet SportsbookNew York +9.5 -110
Phoenix -9.5 -110
Over 165 -110
Under 165 -110
New York +340
Phoenix -460
Unibet SportsbookNew York +9.5 -112
Phoenix -9.5 -112
Over 165 -112
Under 165 -113
New York +335
Phoenix -455

If you see any odds you like but are uncertain about how to go about placing legal bets in New York, check out our sister site BetHer’s guide to wagering on sports safely for New York residents.

The facet of the game that New York lives and dies by

During the regular season, the Liberty depended on the three for offense more than any other team in the league. Nearly 39% of their points came from made 3-point baskets. New York has enough talented passers and shooters to make that work when the shots are falling.

The Liberty led the league in efficiency rating in games won because of their ability to hit the three. That efficiency rating drops by a full six points when compared to all games and a further four points in their losses. Couple that with the fact that nearly 42% of New York’s shot attempts were from behind the line, and it isn’t hard to predict that Phoenix’s defensive game plan will be to limit the Liberty’s looks from outside.

Also working in the Mercury’s favor is their roster. While New York’s game might naturally avoid the shot-blocking prowess of Brittney Griner, that intimidation factor works in her team’s favor.

Phoenix has allowed the third-lowest 3-point shooting percentage to opponents this season despite opponents averaging 22.1 such attempts per game. That’s because of the defensive skills of veteran guards like Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi.

So, is there any reason to stake money on a Liberty upset Thursday? That’s ultimately up to each bettor to decide for themselves. Handicapping this game would be incomplete without considering the Mercury’s recent form, too.

Phoenix not exactly rising into the playoffs

The Mercury come in having lost all of their last three games, following a one-point win over the Atlanta Dream that proved the end of that 11-game winning streak. Several of those contests they lost represented opportunities to improve their seeding and secure at least a first-round bye.

Meanwhile, New York got the win over the Washington Mystics they had to have in order to stay alive. Looking at isolated numbers again, the Liberty have actually been one of the most clutch teams in the league.

New York is +12 in clutch time this season (last two minutes of the game, two-possession or fewer difference in the score). Within the same metric, the Liberty has the third-best free-throw percentage in the league.

By comparison, Phoenix is -1 in the Plus/Minus and their shooting at the charity stripe ranks eighth of the 12 teams. Thus, the path to the second round for New York is to shoot well enough to keep the game close, then let the ice in their veins do its thing.

For that reason, live betting could be an attractive option in this contest. Bettors should get a good idea in the first quarter of whether the Liberty are hot from downtown. That alone could determine whether they move on or not.

What happens if the Liberty win Thursday night?

The WNBA playoffs consist of four rounds, the first two of which are single elimination. It also re-seeds the bracket after each round. New York is the eighth and lowest seed to begin. In the second round, the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds get home games against the surviving teams from the first round.

This year, the Minnesota Lynx are the third seed and the Seattle Storm are the fourth seed. Due to the re-seeding, higher seeds play the lowest surviving seed from the previous round. As that’s the Liberty regardless of who wins between the Chicago Sky and Dallas Wings Thursday, New York would be headed to Minnesota for another elimination contest on Sunday should they survive the trip to Phoenix.

If they can oust the Lynx, they would then go on to face the top-seeded Connecticut Sun in a best-of-five series. Three wins over Connecticut would put them in a best-of-five WNBA Finals. The New York Liberty playoffs journey starts at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2 tonight.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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