It's been a busy stretch for the Sparks, who will be playing their third game in four nights when they host the Mercury. What's our go-to WNBA pick tonight?
Phoenix Mercury vs. LA Sparks Betting Odds
It looks like the Sparks are starting to finally their groove, but that's not enough to convince oddsmakers they should be the favorites for tonight's game. It's the Mercury that hold that tag in this spot, with Phoenix favored by either three or three and a half points depending on which sportsbook you use.
We see a higher total on the WNBA odds board than in the other game of the day (Atlanta at home versus Seattle), with the line settling in at right around 153.5.
Los Angeles Sparks
The return of Kristi Toliver has been a massive boost to the Sparks, and that notion was confirmed in a major way two nights ago in the team's 98-95 win over Tulsa. She scored a career-high 43 points on 15-of-24 shooting and also dished out nine assists. Toliver nailed 7-of-12 from three-point land and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line.
It was quite the night from Toliver, who has helped the Sparks escaped the sad hole they had dug to start off the season. In the narrow win over the Shock, Toliver got some help from Nneka Ogwumike, who scored 19 points to go with 10 rebounds, two steals and a block in 39 minutes of play. Jantel Lavender and Marianna Tolo also hit double-digit scoring in the win.
Even though Toliver's presence helps, the Sparks are still far from at full strength, as their best player Candace Parker is still out indefinitely and Alana Beard is still recovering from an injury. Once those two are good to go, you have to think Los Angeles is going to go on a major run and climb up the standings.
Much like the Sparks, the Mercury have been looking a lot more competitive since their got a key piece back in the rotation. Brittney Griner has served her suspension and has returned emphatically, averaging 16.7 points and 9.0 rebounds through the team's first three contests.
Alongside DeWanna Bonner, who's averaging 18.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists, and Candice Dupree (15.5 PPG and 5.0 RPG), the Mercury now have legitimate offensive weapons, and that's going to hold them in good stead going forward. With Griner now patrolling the paint, we should be seeing a spike across the board in terms of team stats, as Phoenix is currently ranked sixth in scoring, seventh in rebounding, ninth in assists and fifth in points allowed per game.
The Mercury have built up a little momentum ahead of tonight's game, as they've picked up consecutive wins over San Antonio (85-78) and Tula (86-55). Will they be able to record a third consecutive triumph? They'll have to get the job done on the road this time around.
WNBA Betting Verdict
It's been good to see the Sparks find their winning touch again, but we're not sold on their chances of making it three games in a row this evening.
While Los Angeles has been boosted by the return of Toliver, the same can be said for Mercury and the return of Griner, who has already made a huge impact since getting involved again. Now that she's in the mix again, Phoenix has a three-headed monster (Griner, Bonner and Dupree) to rely on, and those three should be able to guide the Mercury to the road win in this situation.
So, as you may have been able to tell, we're liking Phoenix's chances here. They hold the talent advantage over the Sparks while they're without Parker and Beard, and they should also have the more rested legs. Add the Mercury to your collection of WNBA picks for Sunday.
WNBA Pick: Phoenix Mercury -3.5