Sue Bird enters her second last season for the Storm.
Sue Bird enters her second last season for the Storm.@WNBA on Twitter

O'Sullivan's WNBA Opening Day Picks: Fever vs Mystics, Sparks vs Sky, Aces vs Mercury, Lynx vs Storm

Indiana Fever at Washington Mystics, 7 pm Eastern, Los Angeles Sparks at Chicago Sky, 8 pm, Las Vegas Aces at Phoenix Mercury, 10 pm, Minnesota Lynx at Seattle Storm, 10 pm.

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The women are back, and I am ready to make some money off of them. Last season was my first picking WNBA games, and it was like learning a new language: a lot of confusion and frustration at first, but as time went on I started to pick it up so by the post-season, I felt I was bordering on fluency. Let’s see if we can build on that this year.

Follow my picks on Twitter: @OSullyPicks

Seattle O’Sullivan 2022 WNBA Season so far: 0-0, +$0

(Standing Caveat: The universe is chaotic. Life is unpredictable. Things happen. Like injuries. And COVID protocols. In following Seattle O’Sullivan’s betting advice, be advised that you should always monitor your bets during the day to make certain unforeseen things have not occurred which might change your wagering opinion. Thank you.)

Indiana Fever at Washington Mystics, 7 pm Eastern

The Pick: Indiana +6.5 (-104), bet $10.40 to win $10

We’re going to start with small stakes as the WNBA season opens and I get a feel for how the teams respond to their offseason moves. But Indiana was a bad team that always played hard last year. Guard Kelsey Mitchell was a reliable scorer for the Fever, and she’s joined by some really exciting rookies this season. NaLyssa Smith (2nd overall) and Emily Engster (4th) will take some time adjusting, but they’re talented and as energetic as anyone in the league. Meanwhile, while Washington has Elena Delle Donne returning from injury, they lost leading scorer Tina Charles. I think both of these teams will outperform last year, but I’ll take the points in an opener that’s sure to see some jitters and two teams trying to learn about themselves.

Los Angeles Sparks at Chicago Sky, 8 pm Eastern

The Pick: Chicago -170, bet $17 to win $10; Chicago -3.5 (-110), bet $5.50 to win $5

Chicago frustrated me all of last year. I liked them in the beginning of the season, and lost money as they struggled to find an identity. Then, as the playoffs went on, I lost as I picked against them while they were peaking and on their way to winning the WNBA Championship. One of my 2022 resolutions, in addition to losing weight and finally finishing Moby Dick, was to get a better handle on the Sky this season. That starts tonight, where they face a Los Angeles team that’s added pieces, but pieces I don’t particularly like. Readers familiar with this column know about my ambivalence towards Liz Cambage, who’s moved to the Sparks from the Aces. Cambage is a solid player who’s not nearly as dominant as she or anyone else thinks. The Sky will start defending their title tonight, at home and with Courtney Vandersloot at the helm. Readers familiar with this column will recall I think Vandersloot is one of the smartest basketball players ever. I like Chicago more than I like Los Angeles, in general and tonight at home.

Las Vegas Aces at Phoenix Mercury, 10 pm Eastern

The Pick: Las Vegas -160, bet $16 to win $10

There’s no need to get political in this column, but suffice to say Phoenix center Brittney Griner being held prisoner - literally, she’s a prisoner - of Russia - is an absolute travesty and a situation that needs to be resolved peacefully as soon as possible. Speaking strictly strategically, the Mercury not having her will hurt the WNBA runners-up a great deal. Griner averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, and dominated the paint. Without her, Phoenix picked up scorer Tina Charles from Washington, but Charles is not the defensive presence Griner is. Las Vegas, with superstar forward Aja Wilson, will take advantage of that. The Aces also made a coaching change in the offseason, hiring Becky Hammon to replace Bill Laimbeer. This is an upgrade and not just because Laimbeer was an easy villain to hate. The Aces left a chance for a championship on the table last season, and tonight they take advantage of Griner’s absence. I’ll pay extra for a straight win.

Minnesota Lynx at Seattle Storm, 10 pm Eastern

The Pick: Minnesota +6.5 (-102), bet $10.29 to win $10

I just think this is too many points. Obviously, Minnesota will miss Napheesa Collier, who is pregnant with her first child. But Seattle has no one who can handle Sylvia Fowles down low. Fowles enters her last season just as dominant in the paint as ever, and while the Storm are the more balanced squad, last year at home they seemed to do only just enough to win. Minnesota got younger and better defensively in the backcourt, and while Sue Bird may be the GOAT (I’m basing this on the five zillion commercials that told me so over the past eight months), this will be her last year and it’s likely it won’t be dominant. I think Minnesota hangs tough tonight.

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