The top two teams in the WNBA will collide when the Seattle Storm face the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA Finals beginning on Friday night, with oddsmakers giving the Storm a clear edge in the series.
Las Vegas swept the regular season series 2-0 over Seattle, and the Aces claimed the No. 1 seed in the playoffs after both teams finished with 18-4 records.
Storm at Full Strength for Finals Showdown
But despite Las Vegas’ success this year, FanDuel Sportsbook lists Seattle as the -420 favorite to beat the Aces (+340) in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. That starts in Friday’s Game 1, where the Storm come in as a 5.5-point favorite.
Oddsmakers may be discounting Las Vegas’ regular season wins, as Seattle missed Sue Bird for both games, and 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart for one. Both players were back in action for the playoff semifinals, when the Storm crushed the Minnesota Lynx in a three-game sweep.
Seattle now has the opportunity to win its fourth title in franchise history, and its second championship in just three years.
“We’re at the point now, we can see the end of the tunnel,” Storm head coach Gary Kloppenburg told The Seattle Times. “If we can come out and prepare, really come out hard, get these guys, then we can finish it up and everybody can go home. That’s some extra motivation, I think, for our players.”
The Aces flirted with danger in their semifinal series, needing five games to get past the No. 7 seed Connecticut Sun. Las Vegas won Game 5 by a 66-63 margin, behind 23 points and 11 boards from league MVP A’ja Wilson.
“Knew it was my time to put the team on my back,” Wilson said afterwards. “Thought I was in cruise control throughout the whole season. When the fourth quarter came, had to flip the switch. Felt like I did that.”
Hamby Out for Las Vegas
But Las Vegas lost a key contributor for the WNBA Finals. Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby injured her knee in Game 3, and will miss the remainder of the season.
The Seattle Storm also lost a member of its roster prior to the Finals. Backup guard Sami Whitcomb left the Bradenton bubble to head back to Australia to be with her wife for the birth of their first child. Whitcomb was averaging five points per game in the playoffs.
|WNBA Finals Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Seattle Storm (-5.5): -112||Las Vegas Aces (+5.5): -108|
|Seattle Storm: -420||Las Vegas Aces: +340|
While the Aces come in as the underdog, just reaching the WNBA Finals represents a remarkable turnaround for the franchise. Las Vegas went 8-26 in 2017, the third straight year the team won fewer than 10 games and missed the playoffs. Under new coach Bill Laimbeer, the Aces improved to 14-20 in 2018, then 21-13 in 2019, reaching the league semifinals.
The Aces entered the 2020 season as one of the favorites to become WNBA champions, but Wilson says the team still feels like it is defying expectations.
“This moment is surreal,” Wilson told reporters after the Game 5 win. “I don’t think anyone expected us to be here expect for the people in our locker room and maybe a few people outside of it. It’s just something special to be here in the moment.”