If everyone is their own worst critic, then there probably aren’t too many readers who complain about my use of “big words” in sports previews and handicaps. But I make it a point to try to watch it.
Not that I’m ashamed of my vocabulary. It’s like that Peter Gabriel tune, “Big Time” – I’ll be stretching my mouth/To let those big words come right out. You just can’t do it (cough) gratuitously.
Using too many grandiose, superlative, “expyalodocious” big words in a preview is bad juju. It breaks the George Orwell Rule of never using a fancy word where an ordinary word will do.
But when it comes to Sin City’s treatment of the upcoming WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday, there’s only 1 word I can think of – and it’s more than a couple letters long.
If basketball betting sites simply chose not to offer odds on the Women’s National Basketball Association at all, then that would be a sad but understandable product of the times. Sportsbooks never offer lines on women’s sports just to be trendy or gender-neutral. If bookmakers don’t think enough people will be watching something who are interested to gamble, then they’re unlikely to spend employee-hours handicapping and putting out a moneyline.
That’s not what’s going on here, though. Sportsbooks are offering markets on upcoming WNBA contests. Just not the 2019 All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon.
Want to hear the funny part? The game is in Las Vegas.
Oddsmakers have their reasons. But there comes a time for horse sense too. All-Star Games are hard to handicap and generally take balanced action, meaning that it’s hard for bookies to lose money on them. It’s certainly easier for Vegas to drop most of a big handle on a seemingly-mismatched club game that results in an upset as opposed to an All-Star team scoring an infinitely minor “upset” in exhibition play.
If I don’t miss my guess, someone at Bovada Sportsbook or MyBookie will wake up on Friday or Saturday morning and realize it’s time to put a moneyline on the WNBA’s big weekend clash.
Gamblers had best be prepared to wager on short notice.
Line-Forecasting the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game
Line-forecasting is a technique well-known to NFL, NCAA and MLB gamblers, who must often wait for a mid-week outcome before finding markets on the Friday or Saturday event they’re handicapping.
In this case, there are no other games for the WNBA’s Eastern or Western Conference All-Stars to play in before the tip-off – in fact there are no more WNBA club games scheduled for this week. The league is taking a break, making the lack of a Las Vegas gambling line even more inexplic…er, plain weird.
That doesn’t mean we can’t try to predict what the last-minute markets will look like. Here’s a quick glance at the 2 rosters and some recent ASG results from America’s distaff pro hoops league.
Note: The 2 squads will not be representing their conferences but rather “Team Delle Donne” and “Team Wilson” with players selected in a draft by the 2 opposing captains.
Team Delle Donne’s Star Attractions
Small forward Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics has been lights-out once again this season. The Delaware Hen product has held a steady 20.2 point average during her 7-year career and is a fierce rebounder.
She’s not the biggest name-brand attraction on her team though – that would be Brittney Griner. The former Baylor kingpin (or queen-pin) won the 2012 ESPY Female Athlete of the Year award after a dominant NCAA career that helped bring other programs into prominence beside UConn.
Griner’s amazing productivity has carried over to the WNBA, where she won a ring in 2014. She’s scoring more than 19 points per game this year for the Phoenix Mercury.
Jewell Loyd has been a force for the Seattle Storm. The 5’10” guard has starred in the backcourt this season with a 14.4 point-scoring average. Loyd is deadly accurate from the charity stripe shooting 95.5 percent, a facet of her game that may or may not have a huge bearing on Saturday’s outcome.
Jonquel Jones is a tall and sturdy post presence for the Connecticut Sun, a virtual double-double machine in her 4th season in professional basketball. Meanwhile, New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse has wowed spectators in her sophomore season and is shooting 36.8 percent beyond the arc – that’s a factor that could definitely come into play in a jog-and-pop exhibition setting without a whole lot of aggressive fouls or prison-yard defense on the perimeter.
Team Wilson will have plenty of size and talent at its disposal. 6’8” Las Vegas Ace center Liz Cambage has been superb since making her return to the WNBA in 2018. The Australian native recently scored 53 points in a phenomenal outing against New York.
Although she played for the struggling Dallas Wings in 2018, Cambage led the league in scoring.
Sin City teammate Kayla McBride is a prolific WNBA shooter. The 5’10” guard has shot a scorching career-high 47.4 percent from beyond the arc and is 91.8 percent from the stripe in 2019.
Los Angeles Spark PG Chelsea Gray has been all over the floor in 2019 with a 13.2 point, 4.1 rebound, and 5.5 assist average. The former Duke standout and WNBA champion is making her 3rd consecutive All-Star appearance. Gray became only the 9th player in WNBA history to record a triple-double with a 13-point, 13-assist, and 10-rebound performance against the Mystics in July.
However, captain A’ja Wilson will miss the All-Star game with an ankle injury.
After all, while betting sites can technically be run from anywhere, lots of the ‘cappers on-staff usually come from Las Vegas…and Aces supporters are quite familiar with Wilson’s physicality and scoring touch.
Minnesota Lynx rookie Napheesa Collier has been tabbed as Wilson’s replacement.
Past WNBA All-Star Results
As I understand it, the All-Stars are not playing for money or potential playoff home-court advantage for their teams on Saturday – just pride. But even as the NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball tinker with ways to get harder efforts out of superstars in exhibition games, the WNBA’s annual showdown of standouts is anything but non-competitive jaunt around the hardwood.
The 2015 All-Star Game was a nail-biter featuring East vs West squads. Led by All-Star MVP Maya Moore and her 30-point performance, the West edged the East 117-112.
The league bypassed an All-Star Game in 2016 due to the Summer Olympics, and the 2017 game was the last to feature East vs West as a competitive format. Moore led her team in scoring again as the Western Conference prevailed 130-121.
2018’s WNBA All-Star Game introduced the concept of captains picking teams, with Moore and Delle Donne originally tagged to pick out their favorite cagers. Perhaps the former 2-time MVP was concerned about offending friends or teammates, as she turned down the opportunity to draft and captain her own squad. Candace Parker would end up a team captain instead. But Moore shined with her 3rd consecutive MVP award following a terrific performance on offense.
Moore is sitting out the 2019 season and cannot help either side on Saturday.
WNBA Line-Forecast and Best Betting Strategy on Saturday
Throw a scrap of food into a stream’s “pothole” filled with bluegill or grayling, and dozens of hungry mouths will surface fighting for a taste.
That’s probably going to be more-or-less the scenario this weekend as the All-Star Game odds are released at the very last minute.
But grayling that jump at a piece of bread are unlikely to be cautious or think twice about what they’re doing. I’m thinking that Vegas ‘cappers will put conservative, tight lines on the WNBA’s cagers while the betting public sees “Wilson ankle injury” and goes hard for Team Delle Donne.
The bookmakers will be correct and the bettors (most likely) will be wrong. It’s hard to predict the winner of an All-Star Game, injuries or not…but it’s easy to bet against the public.
Drag your feet just like WNBA odds-makers, and wait for action to push the line away from Wilson’s team before taking the moneyline at (+125) or (+150).
You’ll have at least a coin-flip’s chance to prevail with a nice payoff.