WNBA News and Notes Saturday 6/27

WNBA News and Notes Saturday 6/27

Today's WNBA best bets

Phoenix Mercury at Minnesota Lynx (+2.5, 178.5)


The Lynx really miss Seimone Augustus.

Tearing her ACL just 24 hours after dropping 30 points in an 86-83 win at Sacramento, the Lynx watched their star and the team’s leading scorer go down for the remainder of the season. And the squad has greatly missed Augustus’ 21 points per game, as it has dropped two of its past three after winning four of five to start the season.

If Minnesota (5-3) is to regroup and continue its push for the playoffs, it must get past Phoenix (6-3), which has used its up-tempo attack to rocket to first place in the Western Conference standings.

For Minnesota to have a chance, it must get a standout performance from Candice Wiggins (13.3 ppg) to counter Phoenix star Diana Taurasi (22.6 ppg).

Pick: Mercury -2.5


Washington Mystics at Chicago Sky (-5.5, 151)

The sky is the limit for Chicago as long as they have Jia Perkins.

Perkins again saved the Sky when she buried the game-winning jumper in a 99-98 win over the Atlanta Dream. She finished the game with 20 points, further cementing the fact her season averages of 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and four assists per game are no fluke.

"She is one of our All-Stars, even though she hasn't been voted in yet," Chicago coach Steven Key told the Associated Press. "Jia put us on her back."

If the Sky are to remain perfect at home, they must take advantage of the mediocre Washington defense which yields 78 points per game.

Pick: Sky -5.5

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Re: WNBA News and Notes Saturday 6/27

ATLANTA (3 - 4) at CONNECTICUT (3 - 3)

Top Trends for this game.
CONNECTICUT is 9-19 ATS (-11.9 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
CONNECTICUT is 7-16 ATS (-10.6 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
CONNECTICUT is 9-18 ATS (-10.8 Units) vs. division opponents over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
CONNECTICUT is 2-2 against the spread versus ATLANTA over the last 3 seasons
CONNECTICUT is 3-1 straight up against ATLANTA over the last 3 seasons
3 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


NEW YORK (2 - 4) at INDIANA (4 - 2)

Top Trends for this game.
NEW YORK is 44-24 ATS (+17.6 Units) on Saturday games since 1997.
NEW YORK is 61-39 ATS (+18.1 Units) in road games when playing against a team with a winning record since 1997.

Head-to-Head Series History
INDIANA is 6-2 against the spread versus NEW YORK over the last 3 seasons
INDIANA is 6-2 straight up against NEW YORK over the last 3 seasons
4 of 7 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


PHOENIX (6 - 3) at MINNESOTA (5 - 3)

Top Trends for this game.
PHOENIX is 111-82 ATS (+20.8 Units) as a favorite since 1997.
MINNESOTA is 6-16 ATS (-11.6 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 77+ points/game over the last 3 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
PHOENIX is 6-2 against the spread versus MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
PHOENIX is 6-2 straight up against MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
8 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


WASHINGTON (4 - 2) at CHICAGO (4 - 3)

Top Trends for this game.
WASHINGTON is 162-211 ATS (-70.1 Units) in all games since 1997.
WASHINGTON is 98-134 ATS (-49.4 Units) as an underdog since 1997.
WASHINGTON is 80-108 ATS (-38.8 Units) in road games since 1997.
WASHINGTON is 118-151 ATS (-48.1 Units) in May, June, or July games since 1997.
WASHINGTON is 103-134 ATS (-44.4 Units) vs. division opponents since 1997.
CHICAGO is 12-3 ATS (+8.7 Units) off an upset win as an underdog over the last 3 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
WASHINGTON is 5-3 against the spread versus CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
WASHINGTON is 5-3 straight up against CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
5 of 8 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons 

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Fever surging with 5 wins after after 0-2 start

After opening the season with two losses, the Indiana Fever have bounced back with their longest winning streak in nearly two years.
   
The Fever entered the weekend in first place in the Eastern Conference with five straight wins, the second-longest streak in franchise history - one short of a team-record six-game run in July 2007.

``We are playing a lot better since our first two games,'' Indiana center Tammy Sutton-Brown said. ``We did a gut check. We have refocused on defense, something we want to be known for.''

The Fever allowed 91.5 points per game in season-opening losses against Atlanta and Minnesota. In the next four games - wins against Seattle, Los Angeles and a home-and-home with Detroit - Indiana gave up an average of 62.8 while not allowing more than 70 until an 82-81 overtime win at New York on Friday night.

The Fever are also averaging a league-leading 11.3 steals per game on the season.

``I am really proud of our team,'' guard Katie Douglas said. ``Our chemistry is really good with this group, since we were together last year also. And our new players coming in have fit our chemistry.''

The Fever have rallied from 17-point third-quarter deficits in each of their last two games, including an 82-70 win at home against Detroit last Sunday. It was their second win in three days against the defending WNBA champions.

``To get a win up there and then get down by 17 and persevere and come back, last year we would not have been able to do that,'' Douglas said.

Indiana - one-half game ahead of Washington in the tight East standings with seventh-place Detroit three games back - finished 17-17 last season after reaching 21 wins in each of the previous three years.


BELINDA BREAKS OUT: After averaging just 4.0 points in the first four games, Belinda Snell had a career-high 21 for San Antonio in a 91-87 win over Phoenix on Tuesday night.

Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes sensed Snell was pressing too much while trying to fit in with the team, so he gave her a pep talk in the airport Monday while waiting for a return flight to San Antonio following weekend losses at New York and Connecticut.

``When we sat there and talked,'' Hughes said,'' I said, 'You just need to relax a little bit, and know we believe you're a playmaker. Just try to get close to what you do well.'

``I think she's been concentrating so much to learn our system, and I know our system isn't easy.''

Snell acknowledged the coach's talk helped.

``Previous games I've been a bit tense, worrying about every little thing I did out there,'' she said. ``(On Tuesday) I was a little more relaxed and just tried to play my own game.''

Snell's big night off the bench gave San Antonio four players in double figures, along with starters Becky Hammon (19 points), Ruth Riley (16) and Sophia Young (13).

``That's what we've got to move toward,'' Hughes said, ``when we have that balanced scoring.''


WELCOME TO THE WNBA: Kristi Toliver was on the Maryland team that won the NCAA championship during her freshman season.

Toliver played in the NCAA tournament all four years. She averaged 14.9 points and 5.4 assists in her career for the Terrapins, and was selected No. 3 overall by Chicago in the WNBA draft in April.

So how's the adjustment to the pros going?

``I think that the length, the speed and the athleticism of the league has been the biggest adjustment,'' said Toliver, who is averaging 7.3 points and 2.4 assists in 12.1 minutes per game. ``It's the best of the best playing night in and night out. It's great to play against that kind of competition.''


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Washington's Alana Beard and Seattle's Lauren Jackson were selected as the league's players of the week for the Eastern and Western conferences, respectively, for the second week of the season.

Jackson earned the honor for the 14th time, trailing Los Angeles' Lisa Leslie by one for the most in WNBA history. The two-time MVP averaged 25.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the Storm's wins against Minnesota and Phoenix.

She had a season-high 26 points and a career-best six steals against Minnesota on June 19, and has topped 20 points in every game this season.

Beard was selected for her fourth weekly award after averaging 25.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in the Mystics' two games. She scored 31 points in a win against Chicago last Saturday, including the tying jumper with 6:04 left and then a 3-pointer about 40 seconds later that gave Washington the lead for good.


SCOREBOARD WATCH: Phoenix at Minnesota, Saturday, 8 p.m. EDT. Both teams missed the playoffs last year, but entered the weekend near the top of the Western Conference. The Mercury were percentage points behind first-place Seattle, with the Lynx a half-game back. Phoenix won the teams' first matchup, 104-80 at home on June 17. ... Detroit at New York, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT. The East rivals meet for the first time since the Shock beat the Liberty in the Eastern Conference finals last year en route to their second title in three years, and third in the last six. Detroit won three of the four regular-season matchups last season, and then advanced in three games in their postseason matchup.


STATS: Seattle's Lauren Jackson entered the weekend leading the league in scoring at 23.4 points per game. Phoenix's Diana Taurasi (22.6) was next, followed by Minnesota's Seimone Augustus (21.0), who is out for the rest of the season. ... Washington's Crystal Langhorne was tops in rebounding at 8.5, followed by Chicago's Sylvia Fowles (8.1). Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle and Los Angeles' Tina Thompson were next at 8.0. ... The Storm's Sue Bird led the way in assists at 7.4, followed by the Mystics' Lindsey Harding (6.3) and the Mercury's Temeka Johnson (5.8). ... Lynx center Nicky Anosike reached 100 career steals in the fifth-fewest games in WNBA history. Anosike accomplished the feat in her 42nd game, trailing only Teresa Weatherspoon (33 games), Tamika Catchings (35), Yolanda Griffith (38) and Kim Perrot (38). ... With her first steal in last Sunday's loss to Indiana, Detroit's Katie Smith became the first player in league history with 5,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 900 assists and 300 steals.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK: ``I looked up at the score one time and asked the coaches, 'Is that really what the score is?' I thought we were up 12 and all of a sudden we were up (only) four. They can score in bunches especially when they start hitting 3s.'' - Seattle coach Brian Agler, after a 93-84 win against Phoenix last Sunday. The Mercury, who trailed by 11 with about 5:22 left, cut the deficit to three 3 1/2 minutes later before the Storm pulled away.

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