The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips for a top-four Eastern Conference showdown between Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls – the teams’ first of the season.

NBA Tips – Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks

12:00 (AEDT), Sat 22nd Jan @ Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee

History: Played 273: Bulls 140 V Bucks 133

Last meeting: May 16, 2021: Bulls 118 d Bucks 112 at United Center

Final Thoughts: Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls belatedly meet for the first time this season – but the East-leading Bulls will start as rank $4.60 outsiders thanks to a host of key absentees.

The 28-15 Bulls halted a four-game slide with a 117-104 home win over the Cavaliers two days ago. DeMar DeRozan (30 pts, 7 ast), Nikola Vucevic (24 pts, 12 reb) and Ayo Dosunmu (18 pts, 8 ast) led the way for an under-strength side.

But medium-term injuries to Lonzo Ball and Derrick Jones Jr, along with the short-term absences of Zach LaVine and Javonte Green, will make it hard for the Bulls to hang onto top spot. The likes of Alex Caruso have a vital role to play while the Bulls’ resources are stretched.

The 28-19 Bucks will have their sights set on the top seed, but they have won only three of their last nine. In the past week, the defending champs dropped games to the Raptors (103-96) and Hawks (121-114) before beating the in-form Grizzlies (126-114). Giannis Antetokounmpo (33 pts, 15 reb, 7 ast) was in a dominant mood against Memphis, with Khris Middleton (27 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast) and Bobby Portis (14 pts, 10 reb) also strong.

Jrue Holiday also returned from a six-game layoff. Injuries have hampered the Bucks’ bid for consistency this season but they are relatively healthy now – Brook Lopez is the only front-liner in the casualty ward.

The Bulls snapped a 12-game losing streak against the Bucks (which including 10 defeats by double-digit margins) with a 118-112 win against a second-string line-up in Chicago. The Bulls have lost their last five in Milwaukee by an average margin of 14.8 points.

The Bucks are 15-8 at home (9-14 against the start), despite winning only two of their last five at Fiserv Forum. The Bulls are 12-9 on the road (11-10 ATS) but have lost their last three away.

There’s a temptation to get behind the Bulls with a double-digit start here. But when the Bucks have been winning, they’ve won well – their last six victories came by margins of 12-plus.

Best Bet: Handicap – Bucks -10.5 @ $1.90

Same Game Multi: Handicap – Bucks -10.5; Total – Over 227.5; Giannis Antetokounmpo Points – Over 30.5; DeMar DeRozan Points – Over 26.5 @ $9.35

OTHER NBA GAMES

TEAMS
LA Lakers @ Orlando MagicHandicap – Lakers -5.5 @ $1.90
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Charlotte HornetsHandicap – Thunder +9.5 @ $1.90
LA Clippers @ Philadelphia 76ersHandicap – 76ers -8 @ $1.90
Portland Trail Blazers @ Boston CelticsHandicap – Celtics -7.5 @ $1.90
Miami Heat @ Atlanta HawksResult – Hawks @ $1.85
Toronto Raptors @ Washington WizardsResult – Raptors @ $1.78
Brooklyn Nets @ San Antonio SpursHandicap – Nets -2.5 @ $1.87
Detroit Pistons @ Utah JazzMargin – Jazz 11-20
Memphis Grizzlies @ Denver NuggetsHandicap – Grizzlies +4 @ $1.90
Houston Rockets @ Golden State WarriorsMargin – Warriors 21-30