There are seven NBA games taking place on a busy Monday night in the NBA and the most intriguing match-up arguably takes place at the Fiserv Forum, as high-flying duo Portland Trail Blazers make the trip to Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee have demonstrated why they were among the favourites to go all the way before the campaign began as they sit in second spot in the Eastern Conference with an 11-4 record.
Portland have been one of the surprise packages in the Western Conference and they also currently hold second seed with 10 wins from their 16 games so far.
Both of these teams may be riding high, but they have also hit respective rough patches, with both teams 1-3 over their last four games.
This clash could well be a key meeting as these two ambitious outfits look to return to form, and we could be set for an intense meeting in Wisconsin.
What: Portland Trail Blazers @ Milwaukee Bucks
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee
When: 01:00, Tuesday 22nd November 2022
Portland were widely expected to struggle in a Western Conference packed with quality but they started the season with a 9-2 run and are riding high under second-year coach Chauncey Billups.
The Blazers lost long-serving guard CJ McCollum last season, as he joined New Orleans Pelicans, but in Anfernee Simons and they have a quality replacement to partner star man Damian Lillard in the backcourt and McCollum’s departure hasn’t had as big an impact as expected.
The key to Portland’s strong start has been their impressive record on the road and they have just two losses in eight trips so far, at Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.
The Blazers have faced two Eastern teams on their travels so far and have won both of those games - including an eye-catching success at Miami Heat - but they will need to be on top form to get a result in Milwaukee.
Portland may be on form on the road, but the Bucks are incredibly tough to beat at their Fiserv Forum home and they have an 8-1 record in Milwaukee - with Atlanta Hawks the only team to deny them a home win so far this season.
However, Portland did win at this venue in February despite the fact Lillard was unavailable and if they are to claim a win on Monday they will have to do so without their star guard again.
Lillard struggled with an abdominal strain for much of last season but has been in fine form this term, averaging 26.3 points-per-game, 7.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds.
Lillard looks likely to miss Monday’s game due to a calf issue, however, having sat out four consecutive games with a similar problem earlier this month.
The Blazers could also be without reserve forward Nassir Little and young guard Keon Johnson, who like Lillard are rated as questionable, and Gary Payton II will sit out once again.
Milwaukee’s star man Giannis Antetokounmpo is available, but the hosts also have some major injury issues.
The Bucks are definitely without Khris Middleton due to a wrist injury, Patrick Connaughton (calf) is regarded as questionable, while Jrue Holiday has been managing an ankle problem.
Both of these teams rely heavily on their star men and the probable absence of Lillard is a major blow for the Blazers.
Simons looks like their most likely scoring outlet in his absence, and they will need a huge team effort if they are to come away with a win.
Josh Hart and Jerami Grant have also enjoyed strong starts to the season and will need to step up in the absence of Lillard, and rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe is likely to see a bit more game time.
Milwaukee rely heavily on Antetokounmpo and with Middleton missing, the scoring pressure will be on the Greek forward.
Portland will almost certainly have two players guarding Antetokounmpo for the majority of the game and that should allow the other Bucks players a bit more freedom, but he is central to everything they do, so they will be looking to free him up whenever possible.
Portland may have an impressive away record, but the Bucks are a fearsome prospect at home and with Lillard expected to miss out for the visitors the home side can take advantage.