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NBA: Denver Nuggets @ Milwaukee Bucks Preview

After a recent skid without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks are out to prove their title credentials in their encounter with the side top of the Western Conference.

The Denver Nuggets are in the middle of a tough run against contenders, with the Philadelphia 76ers up next at the weekend. They just edged a battle with the New Orleans Pelicans too, which kept them clear at the top of the West.

Having relied on their home form to power them towards the top seed, the Nuggets now need to show some steely resolve on the road. Can they secure a win at the 2021 champions?

WhatDenver Nuggets @ Milwaukee Bucks
WhereFiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
When20:10 ET, Thursday, 26th January 2023
How to watchNBA League Pass
OddsDEN Nuggets +230, MIL Bucks -280

Returning stars out to make an impact

Both of these teams welcomed back their returning superstars with a victory, with the Bucks racking up 150 points against the Detroit Pistons as Giannis returned to the floor. They had lost three of the five games he had just missed, which saw the Bucks slip behind the Sixers in the east standings.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets had just lost a clash to the Oklahoma City Thunder without Nikola Jokic but he returned to post another triple-double in that win over the Pelicans. 

He’s now posted a triple-double in six of his last seven appearances, while he’s basically averaging one for the season with 25.1 points per game along with 11 rebounds and 9.9 assists.

These two are big factors in the MVP race, although Giannis has slid in the betting since picking up his injury. 

The Greek Freak is a +1000 chance to regain the award he’s won twice already, while Jokic is -150 to lift the trophy for the third straight season. His brilliant form has led the Nuggets two games clear at the top of the West, while a victory in his trip would see them leapfrog the Boston Celtics to claim the best record in the league.

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Will away form down Nuggets?

The visitors have an incredible 22-4 home record this term, but that is doing a lot of heavy lifting for them this season. They still have a winning record on the road, where they have a less impressive 12-10 return.

The Nuggets have won nine of their last 10 at home, but they’ve got a 5-5 split across their last 10 matches on the road. Meanwhile, they head to a Bucks side who look to be in great shape with Giannis back in the side.

The hosts have won 18 of their 23 home games this season and they have won seven of their last 10 at home. They’ve won six of the last seven games in which Giannis has appeared, with the former MVP averaging over 30 points per game so far this season.

The Bucks have also been able to mix it with the very best, winning 15 of 22 matches with sides above .500 and three of those losses came during their recent spell without Giannis. 

The Bucks are deservedly heavy favourites going into this one, as they’re priced up at -280 on the Money Line.

Bucks can put on a show

At one point this term the Nuggets looked to have their act together defensively, but they remain in the middle of the pack when it comes to that end of the court. They are 15th in the league in terms of their defensive rating this term, surrendering 113.3 points per 100 possessions.

The Bucks are among the league’s elite defensive sides, with only the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers ranked ahead of them in that regard. The Bucks are brilliant off the glass and strong on the perimeter, with their solid foundation the key to their title hopes this term.

While the Nuggets are proving to be a real force, their defensive issues will likely be their downfall in the postseason. 

They head into a huge showdown against one of the best sides in the league on Wednesday night and it’s hard to see their defence being able to match the Bucks, while they’ll also have a tough night at the other end of the court.

While the Nuggets are within reach of top spot in the league, they look set to fall short in this trip. They rank 14th in the NBA for points scored per away game, so look to the Bucks to rack up a big victory, with the hosts priced at -110 with a -7 handicap. 

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