Sportsbooks still see the Seattle Storm as the clear favorites to win the 2020 WNBA Championship, but recent losses have begun to cast doubt on that status.
The Storm stand atop the Western Conference with an 11-3 record, the best mark in the WNBA this season.
Stewart, Bird Return to Storm After Missing 2019
Seattle has benefitted from the return of Breanna Stewart, who sat out the 2019 season after suffering an injury while playing overseas. Stewart leads the team in both scoring (19.2 points per game), rebounding (7.9 per game), and blocked shots (1.4 per game).
Veteran point guard Sue Bird has also returned from injury this year, though she hasn’t been able to stay on the floor consistently. The 39-year-old has appeared in seven games so far in 2020, averaging 10.1 points and 4.6 assists per contest.
Those performances helped the Storm win nine straight games to start the month of August. But the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut came to a halting stop on Thursday, when the Indiana Fever upset the Storm. That was followed by an 82-74 loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday.
“People are going to hit a wall. I thought Seattle today was a tired basketball team,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I saw that against Indiana, and I told my team I thought they were a tired team going into today. So it’s about taking care of your body and getting your rest.”
Storm head coach Gary Kloppenburg isn’t worried about his team, especially since Bird was missing from both losses. But he did note that the Aces, in particular, found ways to challenge Seattle.
“We had a hard time with their physicality,” Kloppenburg told reporters. “They kind of disrupted us offensively. We haven’t shot the ball well from the 3-point line in the last couple [of] games, so that’s a major factor for us.”
Aces, Sparks Among WNBA Favorites
FanDuel Sportsbook still lists Seattle as the +165 favorite to win the WNBA Championship this year. And the Storm do have opportunities to make up for their losses to Indiana and Las Vegas in this coming week.
The Aces may be the team most likely to challenge Seattle for the title this year. Las Vegas is just a half-game back of the Storm at 10-3, and has won nine of its last 10 games. A’ja Wilson is leading the way, averaging 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. FanDuel lists Las Vegas at +450 to win the title.
WNBA Championship Odds
- Seattle Storm: +165
- Las Vegas Aces: +450
- Los Angeles Sparks: +500
- Chicago Sky: +1000
- Minnesota Lynx: +1200
- Phoenix Mercury: +1200
- Washington Mystics: +1200
- Connecticut Sun: +1400
- Indiana Fever: +5500
- Dallas Wings: +6500
- Atlanta Dream: +8500
- New York Liberty: +8500
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
The third team in the mix is the Los Angeles Sparks (+500), who have also jumped out to a 10-3 start. The Chicago Sky (+1000), who have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 10-4, have earned far less respect from oddsmakers, despite already beating the Aces twice this year.
The WNBA will play a 22-game regular season in a bubble environment at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Eight teams will make the playoffs, with the top two teams receiving a bye into the best-of-five semifinals, while the other six teams square off in two rounds of single-elimination games.