The first night of the 2023 WNBA season is a significant one on the floor, as every team is unbeaten and hope of a championship season springs eternal. But Friday night’s game between the Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks is more significant than most contests, as it means the return of Brittney Griner to the court for Phoenix. In our WNBA predictions for Friday, we break down this Mercury vs Sparks matchup.
Mercury vs Sparks Betting Pick
|ℹ️ The Pick:||Sparks -2|
|? Recommended Sportsbook Promo:||First Bet On Caesars up to $1,250|
|? Promo Code:||ATSBONUSFULL|
This game will be played at crypto.com Arena at 11:00 PM ET on Friday, May 19, 2023.
Why Bet the Sparks:
✅ While it is great that Brittney Griner will be back on the floor for this contest, she has not played in a WNBA game in a long time. Her conditioning and ability to put in significant minutes will be questionable to start this season.
✅ Phoenix is so shorthanded with its guards heading into this matchup. Sophie Cunningham, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Shey Peddy are all out for this contest, which will give the Sparks the upper hand.
The Phoenix Mercury struggled last season without Brittney Griner anchoring their defense, as she was wrongfully detained in Russia in 2022. But Griner is back on the floor, and her return is one of the major storylines of a WNBA season that tips off on Friday night. The question is whether Griner’s return will be enough to help the Mercury win on opening night against the Sparks.
Another question for the Mercury going into this game will be whether Diana Taurasi can carry a banged up guard group to a win in this contest. The Mercury are without several key perimeter players, which could cause them some big issues early in the season, where guard depth could have really helped the team as Griner works her way back into live game action.
Los Angeles Sparks
The LA Sparks were supposed to be a contender last season, but the acquisitions of Chennedy Carter and Liz Cambage were flat out disasters. This year, the Sparks have purged those negative elements, and have brought in some players like Dearica Hamby in an attempt to turn things around in a hurry, starting with opening night against the Mercury.
For the Sparks, the question going into this contest is whether they have the size to slow down Griner when the Mercury have the ball. Nneka Ogwumike is a physical player, but lacks the sheer height that a player like Cambage used to be able to provide. It will be interesting to see how the Sparks opt to defend Griner throughout this season opener.