Sky Begins Quest for Back-to-Back Titles
Teams have made spirited challenges in the quest to win consecutive WNBA titles but no team has been able to accomplish that feat since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and ’02.
Chicago seems to be in pretty good shape to make a run at another title and join the Sparks and the 1997-2000 Houston Comets as the only teams to win back-to-back WNBA championships.
Minnesota advanced to the WNBA championship series after winning the titles in 2011 and 2015 only to fall short of a second straight title.
What a difference a year makes. Chicago won the last three matchups with New York during the 2021 season by an average of 25.3 points. Two of the three games played between the teams during the regular season were decided by three points or less.
Chicago led the WNBA with a 14-4 record at home during the regular season while New York was just 7-11 on the road.
Chicago (+200) is second only to Las Vegas for the best odds to win the WNBA championship according to the WNBA playoff odds. New York is seventh at +6600.
New York Hopes for Longer Postseason Run
There was a bit of a wide-eyed approach to the 2021 playoffs for a New York Liberty team that had so many players making their postseason debuts.
New York came into the winner-take-all matchup with eventual finalist Phoenix as a 10-point underdog. It took a late free throw by Brianna Turner for Phoenix to hold on for the 83-82 win. Seven of the nine New York players to appear in that game are back and looking for more in 2022.
Locker room celebration 🎉💧 pic.twitter.com/jIhSSC1I0M
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) August 15, 2022
Adding Stefanie Dolson, a member of Chicago’s title-winning team gives the Liberty more experience.
Getting Betnijah Laney back for the last few games in the regular season could be a huge plus as she led New York with 25 points in the 2021 postseason loss. Natasha Howard, whose 45 postseason games are two more than the rest of her teammates’ combined playoff appearances, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Something to consider for those who bet online, New York is 2-4-1 against the spread in its last seven contests on the road.
Veteran Sky Will Be a Tough Out
The last thing the Chicago Sky needed in the eyes of the other WNBA teams is another player with championship hardware.
Emma Meesseman, who was the leading scorer in the playoffs when the Washington Mystics won the 2019 WNBA title, left Washington to sign with the veteran-laden Chicago roster.
Meesseman was the only Chicago player to start every game during the regular season. She finished as the Sky’s third-leading scorer and was second in assists.
Reserve point guard Julie Allemand, who last played in the WNBA with Indiana in 2020, and 31-year-old rookie Rebekah Gardner are other new faces in the regular rotation for the Sky.
The other contributors are familiar names with Kahleah Copper, Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, and Azura Stevens all returning from Chicago’s title-winning squad.
Chicago is 1-5-1 against the WNBA betting lines over its last seven home games.
Liberty vs Sky Game Information
- Game: Liberty 16-20; Sky 26-10
- Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago
- Day/Time: Wednesday, Aug. 17, 8:00 p.m. ET
- Liberty vs Sky Live Stream: WNBA.com
Liberty vs Sky Betting Lines
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Total||Team Total|
|New York Liberty||+7½ -110||+270||165½ -110o||79 -115o
|Chicago Sky||-7½ -110||-330||165½ -110u||86½ -115o
Liberty vs Sky Prediction
The teams took different paths to the playoffs. Chicago sat atop the WNBA standings for much of the season before finishing tied with Las Vegas with a 26-10 record. It took a three-game winning streak by the Liberty to secure a spot in the playoffs. New York is 6-2 since it last played — and lost to — Chicago.
Chicago has won 8 of the last 11 matchups with New York. The Liberty have split the last four games in the series played in Chicago.
There was a stretch when nine games in a row between Chicago and New York went over the total. More recently, four of the last six matchups finished under the total.
Courtney Vandersloot averaged 17 points, 6 rebounds, 8.3 assists, and only 1.3 turnovers in three games against New York during the regular season. Seven different Chicago players averaged at least 10 points per game against the Liberty.
Sabrina Ionescu led the Liberty in scoring (15.5 points per game), rebounding (7.8), and assists (7.3) against the Sky.
Chicago is favored in the opener and rightfully so but the 7½-point line seems a bit on the high side. One of the storylines in the series is that each team has a player from China on the roster. While Han Xu is New York’s fifth-leading scorer and figures to play a key role in the opener, Chicago’s Li Yueru is questionable for the game.