3 must-watch WNBA opening weekend games & what to bet on them

Author: Matt EllentuckPublished: 04/01/23
Women’s sports stories and betting analysis from experts and the pros themselves

Sent twice weekly so you can stay on top of what’s good in sports.

WNBA tipoff is upon us, and I couldn't be more excited! This could be the most competitive season yet following an all-time dramatic offseason that concluded with two super teams loaded with All-Stars. EVERYONE is going to be tuned, and we're all asking the same question: Can any team compete with the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces or New York Liberty? And of those two... who is the one to beat?

Opening weekend could reveal a lot of answers to our winter questions, while also spotlighting a number of our college basketball faves.

Here are three games we're deeming MUST-WATCH, plus the best bets to make on them.

Game 1: Connecticut Sun vs. Indiana Fever

Watch to see how Aliyah Boston performs in her first WNBA game

The No. 1 draft pick and college basketball legend is set to start her professional career just six weeks after her final game at South Carolina, and she's going against the best competition of her life. Boston looks to be the feature of a growing Fever team, but she'll have to get through All-Stars Brionna Jones and Alyssa Thomas on the other end — not an easy task.

Matt's pick: Look for Boston to go BIG in her first matchup. The Fever should create an offensive identity around their franchise's first-ever No. 1 pick. She should clear the OVER 10.5 points.

Watch Brionna Jones take over the Sun

Despite advancing to the Finals last season, the Sun are a new-look team with former Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White taking over. That plus the biggie — MVP Jonquel Jones is gone via trade to the Liberty. That leaves a lot of space for first-time All-Star Brionna Jones to operate in the post, where she could enjoy career-high numbers.

Matt's pick: The interior belongs to Brionna Jones now with Jonquel Jones out of the picture. Look for her to hit the OVER on 8.5 rebounds.

How to watch

When: May 19

Time: 7 pm ET

Channel: League Pass

Championship bets

Game 2: New York Liberty vs. Washington Mystics

Watch to see Breanna Stewart make her long-awaited Liberty debut

She's here! The time is here! New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart is, consequently, here! The long-awaited return of arguably the best player on the planet to her home state of New York is bringing unprecedented levels of hype to a sport that's enjoyed unprecedented levels of everything this year. How Stewart operates in a system filled with stars — Jonquel Jones, Betnijah Laney, Courtney Vandersloot and Sabrina Ionescu — is to be determined, but wherever she's played, she's asserted herself as the option.

Matt's pick: Breanna Stewart is coming off the most points ever scored in a EuroLeague Finals game (35). There's no reason to believe, even in this star-studded lineup, that she won't hit the OVER on 24.5 points.

Watch to see Elena Delle Donne play against elite competition

Stewart vs. Delle Donne battles are always must-watch, but with the hype so heavy on either the Liberty or Aces to win the championship, there's sure to be a little extra oomph to the Mystics game. They're widely considered the next-best team, and for good reason. Delle Donne's never had to face a defense that includes both Stewart and Jones, though. Nobody has.

Matt's pick: Delle Donne always shows up in the big games, and this is one of the biggest of their season. Shakira Austin's help doing the defensive work should open up Delle Donne for more shots. Look for her to hit the OVER on 22.5 points.

How to watch

When: May 19

Time: 7 pm ET

Channel: League Pass

Championship bets

Game 3: Las Vegas Aces vs. Seattle Storm

Watch to see Candace Parker make her Aces debut

The best team in the world got one of the best players ever. Candace Parker joining forces with Chelsea Gray, A'ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young could be the best starting lineup of all time. There's no underselling how MUST-WATCH every Aces game will be this season, but especially the first one. This is beyond a super team. It's a supermegaultra team.

Matt's pick: It's unclear how many buckets Parker will get in a lineup filled with elite scorers. She's taken more of a backseat in that department in the later stage of her career. The passing? That's been a constant, though. Expect her to hit the OVER on 5.5 assists.

Watch to see Jewell Loyd take over Storm

Don't let the sorrows of Seattle losing both Sue Bird to retirement and Breanna Stewart to free agency let you down. Jewell Loyd is one of the world's best bucket-getters, and now she'll be tasked with leading an offense for the first time since she's reached her all-world WNBA heights. This should be a career year for the sharpshooter, and she'll get a chance to make sure fans don't forget what she's capable of in one of the most anticipated games of the season.

Matt's pick: Whatever the line turned out to be, I'm probably hitting the OVER. Loyd is my favorite to win the scoring title, and even at a steep 26.5 points, I think she'll hit the OVER comfortably. Buckets are what she does.

How to watch

When: May 20

Time: 3 pm ET

Channel: ABC

Championship bets