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NBA - US Sports: LaVine relishing Bucks challenge

Chicago guard Zach LaVine admits the Bulls will have to be at their best to overcome defending champions Milwaukee Bucks in the play-offs, but he is looking forward to the challenge.

The Bucks are 5/2 to win the Eastern Conference outright and Chicago can be backed at 22/1.

Central Division rivals meet in the East

The Bulls finished as the sixth seeds in the East, while Milwaukee lost their regular-season finale at Cleveland Cavaliers to drop down into third spot to set up a first round play-off series between the two Central Division rivals.

The Bucks won the championship last season and this is the sixth consecutive season in which they have reached the play-offs, with Milwaukee securing a top-three seed in each of the last four seasons and being the top seeds in two of those campaigns.

In contrast, the Bulls have ended a four-year absence from the post-season and this will be LaVine's first campaign in the play-offs, having also failed to qualify in his three seasons with former team Minnesota Timberwolves.

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LaVine is well aware Chicago will need to be on top form to win the best-of-seven series with the defending champions but he is convinced the Bulls can avoid a first round exit.

"We get a lot of days to prepare," said LaVine, via NBC Sports. "Obviously, we're going up against the defending champs. I think it's a great opportunity.

"If we're not going in confident or looking at it as 0-0 now - we have to come with our right mindset and get that dawg mentality.

"We're a good team. We just have to start playing like it and bring that confidence to it. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

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