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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks face festive frenzy

Christmas is a busy time in the NBA and this festive period looks set to be a particularly hectic spell for Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee are involved in one of the four Christmas Day games as they take on Boston Celtics in a key game in the battle for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks play six games in the space of just 12 days as on Monday evening they travel to New Orleans Pelicans before match-ups away from home at conference rivals Cleveland Cavalier, Brooklyn Nets, Boston and Chicago, and they then return to Milwaukee to take on Minnesota Timberwolves in their final game of 2022.

Bucks in form going into busy period

Milwaukee may have been handed a tough run over the Christmas period but they are in fine form going into this busy spell.

Mike Budenholzer's team have six wins in their last eight games and boast a league-best 21-8 record ahead of the trip to New Orleans.

Milwaukee are -115 to win at the Pelicans in the Money Line on Monday night, while New Orleans can be backed at -105. If the Bucks win on Monday it will give them a bit of breathing space over Boston, while a defeat would see them share the league-best record with the Celtics after their surprise loss to Orlando Magic on Sunday.

Injuries a Christmas concern for Milwaukee

The Bucks are enjoying an excellent season and their performances have been even more remarkable considering the injury issues the team has had.

Khris Middleton missed the start of the season with a wrist injury that required surgery over the summer and has only just returned to action. 

The forward initially struggled after making his return but appeared to be getting back to his best with a 20-point game in the win over Golden State Warriors earlier this month, but is still lacking full fitness and he sat out the win over Utah Jazz last time out with knee soreness.

Star man Giannis Antetokounmpo also missed the win over the Jazz with a similar issue, meaning Jrue Holiday was the only member of the Bucks ‘big three' on display against Utah and he had missed the two previous games.

None of those players are seriously injured, but MVP contender Antetokounmpo and Middleton's issues need to be carefully managed for the next few weeks and both will see their game time limited during this bust period.

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Christmas Day game the big one for Bucks and Boston

Boston and Milwaukee look set to battle it out for the top seed in the East this season and that means their Christmas Day battle has added importance. The Celtics will be looking to make the most of home advantage at TD Garden and they are rated at -170 to win in the Money Line, while Milwaukee are +150 to claim a win over their rival for first place.

There is a real chance this game could be an Eastern Conference finals preview, although of course there is plenty of basketball still to be played before the regular season comes to an end.

The Celtics have hit a bit of a rough patch of late with four defeats in their last five games, and their one win during that run came in overtime. 

Boston did have a big lead in the East not too long ago but their dip in form allowed Milwaukee to close the gap, but the Celtics have had the better of recent meetings – winning 4-3 in the playoffs last season as they fought back from 3-2 down after splitting the regular season series 2-2.

Bucks face further challenges from Eastern rivals

Boston are also fairly busy over the next few days, but Milwaukee have a trickier run as they face challenges from rivals in the East on the road.

After Monday's game against New Orleans, the Bucks take on Cleveland and then Brooklyn – who sit third and fourth in the East respectively. The Nets have improved under new coach Jacque Vaughn and they are one of the NBA's form teams as they are on a six-game winning streak after Sunday's comeback win at Detroit Pistons.

The Christmas Day game with Boston follows those two difficult road games but the Bucks complete their road swing with a potentially difficult trip to Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are having a difficult season but will still feel they can force their way into those playoff places.

Milwaukee's next home game is their final outing of 2022 as they entertain the Timberwolves at the Fiserv Forum.

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