The Los Angeles Sparks, formerly an afterthought in the playoff race, now find themselves looking for a third consecutive win after going 5-5 in their last 10 games. They will face a Phoenix Mercury team that has been mired in a roller coaster ride, trying to navigate a challenging season.
If Phoenix wants to make a serious run at a playoff berth and contention, they must enter Crypto.com Arena and find a way to win a ball game. That won’t be easy, as the two teams have already split victories earlier this season. As the All-Star weekend nears, both teams must consider this game a must-win.
Our free WNBA betting picks break down whether or not the Mercury can rise from the ashes or if the Sparks will keep them grounded.
Mercury vs Sparks odds
Odds via the bet365. Compare WNBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.
Mercury vs Sparks predictions
Predictions made on 7/4/2022 at 10:15 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Mercury vs Sparks info
• Location: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
• Date: Monday, July 4, 2022
• Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Mercury vs Sparks betting preview
Mercury: Brittney Griner C (Out), Kia Nurse G (Out).
Sparks: Rae Burrell F (Out), Chennedy Carter G (Questionable), Brittney Sykes G (Questionable), Kristi Toliver G (Questionable).
Find our latest WNBA injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Mercury are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss. Find more WNBA betting trends for Mercury vs. Sparks.
Mercury vs Sparks picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
The Sparks are an efficient basketball team, as evidenced by their third-ranked 45.6 field goal percentage. While that type of efficiency can keep them in games against most anyone, they don’t do much of anything else at a league-leading level with many metrics finding Los Angeles amongst the league’s worst. Three-point shooting has been a problem all season, with the team ranking second to last at 32.9% shooting from beyond the arc. Their offensive rebounding and offensive rating also leave a lot to be desired.
Defensively, the Sparks also rank out as one of the worst teams in the league with a defensive rating of 105.8 (ninth in the WNBA). The Sparks are one of the better teams at generating steals, ranking fourth in the league with 8.5 per game. The steals and turnover battle will be one to keep a close eye on, as the Mercury only turns the ball over 13.9 times per game.
The Mercury were supposed to be among the best teams in the league, although they haven’t exactly looked like anything special of late. While their offensive rating of 102.4 remains in the Top 4, they also struggle to hit shots from deep, as their 32.7% three-point shooting ranks last in the league.
It should be noted that the “super team” that was supposed to come into fruition when Tina Charles signed with the Mercury never panned out. Charles was arguably the team’s best player this season, averaging over 17 points per game before leaving. The former MVP is no longer with the team, and many of their positive offensive metrics could dive with her departure.
Despite that, I still like Phoenix here in a game they absolutely must win.
While there aren’t any major differences between these two teams in advantages/disadvantages, the Sparks playing on the second night of a back-to-back puts them in a tough spot. Bettors should expect them to have tired legs. In the last matchup between these two teams, the Sparks only scored 74 points. Phoenix will come out aggressive and look to erase their recent subpar performance against the Chicago Sky.
Prediction: Mercury -1 (-110 at PointsBet)
Covers basketball betting analysis
When analyzing all the different obstacles the Sparks had to deal with this season, it’s impressive that they have been able to right the ship. Head coach Derek Fisher was removed from duties, yet the veteran team has found its footing in what looked like a meaningless season just a few weeks ago.
Since Fisher’s departure, the Sparks have seen an uptick in several important metrics, including their defensive rating, which ranks Top 5 in the WNBA at 100.2. The Sparks have been in the Top 5 in rebounds (35.9), steals (7.9), and assists (20.8) since interim head coach Fred Williams implemented his vision.
Both teams know how to score, as each ranks Top 5 in the league in points per game. Skylar Diggins-Smith is a star who has made her sixth WNBA All-Star team. This game feels like one where she could explode for 25-plus points and drive up the total points. The Sparks will look to Nneka Ogwumike to carry the offensive load. If both of these talented scorers get going early, the Over could be surpassed relatively easily.
However, the availability — or potential lack thereof — of key Sparks players should cause a great deal of caution. Chennedy Carter, Brittney Sykes, and Kristi Toliver are all questionable to play today. For the season, they account for over 23 points per game.
That is a significant amount of points that may be difficult to account for considering where the Over/Under could sway. On top of that, Ogwumike is 32 years old and it’s a fair concern as to how she will respond in her first back-to-back of the year. The Sparks secured a victory yesterday, I believe some natural regression along with the aforementioned factors could cause the Sparks scoring to take a step back.
Prediction: Under 165.5 (-110 at PointsBet)
The defenses for the Sparks and Mercury have been playing a little better of late. In three out of the last four games, they’ve each held opponents to under 80 points.
The early season matchup isn’t a perfect measuring stick for this rematch, either. These two teams have already squared off twice this year, with the Sparks winning in May and the Mercury securing a victory in June. The defense wasn’t on display as the teams combined for 193 points.
As I’ve stated earlier, Diggins-Smith can fill up the stat sheet as she scored 28 points in that matchup. She bested that output in the next matchup when she scored 29 points, but the teams combined for just 155 points.
Los Angeles enters this matchup on the second half of a back-to-back. The quick turnaround can cause concern after fending off the Liberty only a day before. There should be a concern as this is the first back-to-back for the Sparks this season. I wouldn’t expect a huge output of points in this one.
Pick: Under 165.5 (-110 at PointsBet)
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