The #WNBAPlayoffs semifinal series between the second-seeded New York Liberty and No. 3 Connecticut Sun shifts to Uncasville for Game 3 tonight with it tied 1-1. The Liberty actually had a better road record (17-3) during the regular season than at home (15-5), and the SBIA Model is on New York at -167 on the full-game moneyline as well as first-half ML (-160) and spread (-2). The Liberty are 5-0 ATS in their past five Friday games.
Connecticut stole Game 1 in the Big Apple as an 8.5-point dog but that may have been the Liberty sleepwalking a bit as they responded with an 84-77 win in Game 2 on Tuesday (although the Sun covered the spread again) behind 21 points from Sabrina Ionescu and 20 from Betnijah Laney, who was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
"I think there's just a different mentality when you're down one," said Ionescu. "This was a must-win for us. We weren't going to lose two at home.”
Newly named league MVP Breanna Stewart had 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five blocks but missed 10 of her 13 shots from the field. She also struggled shooting in Game 1 when NY scored a season-low 63 points. Jonquel Jones finished with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and a pair of assists in the Game 2 victory. It was her 14th career playoff double-double her league-leading fourth of these playoffs. She has one in each Liberty game.
New York shot 38.5% from deep in Game 2, its playoff high so far. The Liberty also finished with 16 fast-break points after compiling zero in Game 1.
Defensively, their 32 possessions of zone defense were the most they've played in a game this season. Connecticut star Alyssa Thomas, who finished a close second for regular-season MVP, finished with 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Stewart and Thomas were separated by seven points in the MVP voting, the second-smallest margin between the winner and runner-up in the award's history.
The SBIA Model pre-playoffs recommended a one-unit wager on New York at +145 to win the title. It is now +215. One major US book offers a prop on how long this best-of-5 lasts: Four is -120 and five -105.
Connecticut was 13-7 at home this year and is 5-2 ATS in its past seven at home vs. New York. The Liberty won both games there in the regular season by eight points and then by five (in OT) in the most recent matchup in Uncasville on Aug. 24 with the Liberty rallying from a 20-point second-half deficit.