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After a day off for each team, 10 of the 12 WNBA squads are back in action for Tuesday, August 17. The five-game slate concludes with a 10:00 pm ET matchup between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Atlanta Dream. Los Angeles is favored by four points for this matchup with the total set at 159.5 on PointsBet Sportsbook. After a 1-1 split on Sunday's picks, I’m looking at the spread of this matchup for my best bet of tonight’s WNBA games.
Los Angeles Sparks vs. Atlanta Dream
This contest will likely be decided in transition, as both teams look for fast-break opportunities consistently, and Los Angeles and Atlanta are the two highest ranked teams in points off turnovers per game. Both teams rank towards the bottom of the league standings, with the Sparks sitting at 7-13 and the Dream’s record at 6-14.
After a slow start to the season, Los Angeles looked much better Sunday with the return of Nneka Ogwumike. The six-time All-Star played only five games before the break due to injury. Los Angeles sorely missed the team’s star in the first half of the season. The Sparks ranked last in the WNBA in both assist percentage and true shooting percentage entering the break, but still forced the most turnovers in the WNBA with 18.6 per game.
Ogwumike scored 12 points in her first game back and capped off her return with a transition layup to defeat the Fever 75-70. The image of Ogwumike breaking away in transition should be familiar after tonight's matchup against Atlanta, as Synergy data shows the Dream allow more points per transition possession to opponents than any other team in the WNBA. Now that she’s healthy, Ogwumike can help the Sparks get fast-break opportunities as the former WNBA MVP tied for the second-most points off opposing turnovers per game in the league.
Even without Ogwumike, transition scoring has been a strength of Los Angeles all season. The Sparks lead the WNBA in points off turnovers per game at 19.2 while only allowing opponents to score 13.4 points off their mistakes, third-least in the league. Los Angeles also allows the fewest fast-break points in the league and second-fewest opposing points in the paint. In clutch time, the Sparks’ advantage is even clearer. Los Angeles has the highest clutch-time opposing turnover rate at 27.4% and force the most points off turnovers in clutch-time at 3.4 per game. No other team besides Las Vegas scores at least 2.0 clutch-time points off turnovers per match.
Los Angeles also added guard Kristi Toliver back to the rotation Sunday after the former All-Star missed time with an eye injury. Toliver last played on June 24 before tying for the team lead in assists on Sunday. Forward Brittany Sykes led the team in scoring against Indiana with 16, while Erica Wheeler and Amanda Zahui B scored 12 and 13 points, respectively, in the win. Wheeler and Zahui B join Ogwumike as the three double-digit scorers on the Sparks this season.
Atlanta will likely be without leading scorer Tiffany Hayes in addition to Chennedy Carter and Cheyenne Parker, so Courtney Williams will be expected to carry the load once again after an outstanding 30 point game in 38 minutes against Phoenix on Sunday. Williams made the All-Star game for the first time this season after averaging 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game before the break. Despite Williams' impressive showing, the Dream couldn’t cover as 5.5-point underdogs to the Mercury and lost 92-81 on Sunday.
Atlanta allows the highest points per game average to opponents in the WNBA at 88.5, so Los Angeles should be able to get points on the board in this matchup. The Dream also shot the lowest clutch-time free throw percentage in the WNBA before the break, which could help Los Angeles pull away late to cover the spread. If the game comes down to a transition battle, Ogwumike’s return could be the spark LA needs to crush Atlanta’s dream. I’m backing the Sparks to cover in this WNBA matchup as four-point favorites.
EDGE: Los Angeles Sparks -4
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