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Weekend Preview: Milwaukee Bucks aim to bounce back

Thursday night was a quiet one across the NBA, with just the three games tipping off late on the West Coast, but that has given way to a packed weekend of action featuring 24 games across three days.

After a midweek which saw the Eastern Conference’s top sides go head-to-head, this weekend's action is dominated by the West. While the Golden State Warriors continue to struggle, the Phoenix Suns go from strength to strength.

WhatNBA Season 2022/23
WhereUSA and Canada
When18th October 2022 - June 2023
How to watchSky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsBOS Celtics +475, MIL Bucks +500, PHX Suns +700, GS Warriors +750, LA Clippers +750

The Bucks have slipped off top spot in the East, falling a game behind the Boston Celtics. While the 2021 champions still have a fine 11-3 record, they’ve got a 3-2 record on their travels this term. A home-heavy schedule helped them to a strong start, making Friday’s visit to Philadelphia a big test for the Bucks.

The Sixers are -125 for the win after a strong run which has brought them back to .500. In James Harden’s absence, they’ve become one of the best defences in the league, with PJ Tucker finally starting to hit his stride.

The Bucks will be hoping to jump back to the top of the Conference, with the Celtics facing a tricky visit to the New Orleans Pelicans. However, Boston are bound for Louisiana as -150 off the back of a league-high eight-game winning streak.

Huge Western doubleheader

Later on Friday comes two big Western Conference clashes, starting in Dallas. The Denver Nuggets have moved within a game of top spot in the West, but they face a difficult weekend doubleheader. The Nuggets face the Dallas Mavericks away on both Friday and Sunday, with the Mavs 7-2 at their own arena this season.

While the Mavs have Luka Doncic at the peak of his powers, the Nuggets could be without Nikola Jokic. Luka is averaging 34.4 points per night, with 8.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists to go alongside that. His form has made the Mavs -425 for the first clash, with hope that Jokic can return in time for Sunday’s clash.

Later that night the high-flying Utah Jazz host the Suns, with the pair both sitting in the top four in the West. The Jazz have hit the roughest patch of their season so far, with a three-game losing streak likely to get worse against last season’s leading regular season side. This is expected to be a tight one, with the Suns -130 for the win and the Jazz +110 outsiders.

Can Raptors keep competing?

The Toronto Raptors sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, which is a fine record given their injury-hit roster. Pascal Siakam continues to miss out, having started the season posting MVP-calibre numbers. He’s clearly the Raptors’ standout player, especially with Fred VanVleet slowing off the back of an All-Star season and Scottie Barnes struggling in his sophomore campaign.

The Raptors head to the Hawks in Saturday’s opening game hoping to keep their good start going. However, Toronto’s 3-6 away record is a concern, while Otto Porter Jr and Dalano Banton have joined the injury list.

The Hawks are soaring in third with a 9-6 start. They did suffer a 126-101 loss to the Celtics last time out, but the injury-hit Raptors offer a perfect chance to return to form.

Mitchell reunion with Cavs and Heat both cold

Sunday kicks off with an early clash between the New York Knicks and the Suns, with Phoenix out to defend a 7-1 home record. The early action leads into a busy night, which features an intriguing game in Cleveland.

Before being traded to the Cavs, Donovan Mitchell spent the summer being linked with the Miami Heat. The guard was even spotted out with Jimmy Butler, fuelling speculation over a move to South Beach. Now he reunites with Butler on Sunday six places above the Heat in the East standings.

It’s been a torrid start for Miami, who sit tenth with a 7-8 start. Last season’s Eastern Conference finalists have a major gap to plug at power forward, but the scoring of Mitchell would have been a huge boost to a side who have looked sluggish across the court this term. The Cavs have now overtaken them in the Conference betting but a five-game losing streak could open the door for Miami.

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