Mercury vs Sparks Preview, Betting Odds, & Free Pick – [6/18/17]

Phoenix (6-4) at Los Angeles (7-3)
When: Sunday, June 18th 2017
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 5:00 ET | TV: NBA TV, ESPN3
Opening Odds: Los Angeles -5.5/168

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Diana Taurasi has a chance to make history when her Phoenix Mercury visit the Los Angeles Sparks for a Sunday afternoon WNBA battle at Staples Center. Taurasi, a three-time WNBA champion, needs 14 points to break the league record of 7,488 set by Tina Thompson from 1997-2013. “I think it’s huge,” Taurasi told ESPN. “Obviously, Tina’s on top. Tina’s just been so great for the game of basketball, men’s or women’s, really.” Phoenix (6-4) has won two of its last three games and four of six and will look to make it two straight. Brittney Griner scored 27 points and Taurasi added 15 to lead the Mercury to an 86-78 victory over Chicago on Friday. The Mercury are second in the WNBA in scoring defense (77.2), but have allowed their last five opponents to score 78 or more including four of them of at least 88 points. Griner leads the Mercury in points (24.1), rebounds (8.5), FG% (56.1), and blocks (2.7), while Danielle Robinson leads the squad in assists (5.0).

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The Sparks trail Minnesota by two games in the Western Conference after the Lynx suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday. Los Angeles (6-3) has won three in a row and five of its last six since suffering back-to-back road losses against Indiana and Atlanta in late May. The Sparks are coming off an 80-75 victory over the winless San Antonio Stars, but nearly squandered a 20-point second-half lead. Huge baskets by Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray helped them withstand a late charge by the Stars. Parker led Los Angeles with 20 points and Gray had 19 in the win over San Antonio, while Nneka Ogwumike, the reigning WNBA MVP, had 16 points and nine rebounds. It was the second game in a row that the Sparks nearly blew a big lead. They led Dallas 72-52 going into the fourth quarter on Tuesday before the Wings battled back to get within eight. The Sparks will embark on a three-game Eastern road trip after Sunday’s contest with Phoenix.

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Los Angeles is 5-0 at the Staples Center this season, but just 2-3 against the spread and have had a rough time in the fourth quarter recently. The Mercury have enough firepower with Taurasi and Griner to keep this one close.

Pick: Mercury +5.5