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NBA - US Sports: Heat head to Bucks in key East battle

Eastern Conference leaders Miami Heat face a tough trip to defending champions Milwaukee Bucks in one of eight NBA games on Wednesday.

Miami are 167/100 to win in the Money Line and Milwaukee can be backed at 25/48.

Bucks looking to close gap

The Heat lead the way in the East with a 41-21 overall record, two games ahead of nearest rivals Chicago Bulls and four clear of the Bucks.

The two teams have met three times this season and the Heat have managed two wins, although neither team has managed a road win against the other.  

There is a real chance these two sides will meet in the playoffs and this is their final regular season encounter.

Philadelphia 76ers are serious contenders in the East as they sit in third spot.  The Sixers entertain a New York Knicks outfit who appear to have little chance of reaching the postseason after a run of nine defeats in their last 10 games. 

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Harden making strides

James Harden has played in the last two Philadelphia games and recorded his first triple-double for the team in just his second appearance, managing 29 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists against the Knicks when the two sides met in New York over the weekend.

The Sixers won by 16 points in New York and are likely to record another big win against a team who are clearly low on confidence and seemingly resigned to missing out on the playoffs.

The biggest game in the West sees leaders Phoenix Suns entertain Portland Trail Blazers. 

The Suns have a firm grip on the top seed as they are six-and-a-half games ahead of Golden State Warriors in second, while the Blazers are in what looks to be a three-way fight with New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers for the final two play-in places.

New Orleans are also in action as they entertain Sacramento Kings, who still have an outside chance of reaching the postseason, while the Lakers lost at home to Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

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