The money pays the same, but it’s instructive for bettors to take a clear-eyed view of their winning wagers. Did they make a good call, was the game a coin flip that could have gone either way, or did they get lucky?
Here are some betting highlights from Thursday’s games:
Good call: Golden Knights -115 vs. Blues
Don’t let the ebb and flow of the game fool you: Vegas dominated the St. Louis Blues en route to a 6-4 victory.
The Blues, the defending Stanley Cup champions, took a 2-0 lead, lost it, then regained a 4-3 edge heading into the third period.
Then the Knights took control, scoring three goals in the final period, including a capper from Shea Theodore that also covered the -1½ puck line (+220).
A comeback in the final period sounds like a coin flip or possibly a lucky win, but one stat tells the story: Vegas outshot St. Louis 38-17.
This outcome should not have been in doubt. A winner for Knights backers, and also an easy call on over 5½ goals.
Other good calls:
— The Sacramento Kings (+4) rolled past the New Orleans Pelicans 140-125, also cashing at +160 on the money line. The game also sailed over the total of 235 with 265 points.
— The Phoenix Suns (+2) took control in the third quarter and cruised past the Indiana Pacers 114-99.
— The Houston Rockets (-3½) had no problem with the Los Angeles Lakers in a 113-97 victory. Turns out LeBron James, who sat out with a groin injury, might mean more to his team than Russell Westbrook, who was out with a thigh contusion.
— The Kansas City Royals (+155) jumped all over the Chicago Cubs in a 13-2 victory, scoring nine runs in the first three innings to cash at a nice price. The game was also over the total of 9½ in the fifth inning.
Coin flip: Trail Blazers -4½ vs. Nuggets
Portland continued its playoff push with a 125-115 victory over Denver, but it took every bit of Damian Lillard to get there.
Lillard scored 45 points, including 11 3-pointers, and virtually everyone was necessary, as the Nuggets hung around the entire game and even had the lead in the fourth quarter.
Portland nudged just far enough ahead in the final minutes to get the cover, but Blazers backers can’t count on 45 from Lillard every night.
Other coin flips:
— Over 231½ barely got there in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 126-111 victory (237 points) over the Dallas Mavericks.
— The Columbus Blue Jackets (+135) spotted the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead before rallying for a 4-3 victory in overtime to take a 2-1 in their playoff qualifying round series. Despite the early deficit, Columbus outshot Toronto 43-36 and outhit the Leafs 27-19.
— The Pittsburgh Pirates (+190) walked off with a 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins as a sizable underdog, scoring one run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth after being down 5-3 after five.
— The Arizona Diamondbacks (-115) paid off for sharp bettors with a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros. The Diamondbacks opened as underdogs as high as +120 before being bet to favorites by first pitch. They outhit the Astros 11-8 and left nine men on base, but needed Kole Calhoun’s walk-off two-run double in the ninth to get the win.
You got lucky: Bucks -9½ vs. Heat
NBA bettors know big leads can evaporate quickly, but this one was a little ridiculous.
Miami jumped all over Milwaukee and led by 17 at halftime. Maybe the money line wasn’t clinched, but surely the Heat would cover +9½ with 26½ points of cushion in the second half, right?
Wrong. The Bucks cut the deficit to six entering the fourth quarter, then took the lead with a little more than half of the quarter to play.
Miami took its final lead at 111-110 with just under five minutes to play … and then didn’t score again until less than a minute remained.
Bucks 130, Heat 116. Milwaukee -9½ gets paid.