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The NBA marches toward its trade deadline this week with a Tuesday prime-time, marquee matchup. It features the first meeting between rookie Zion Williamson and defending NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Milwaukee Bucks visit the New Orleans Pelicans.
One-time 2020 Rookie of the Year favorite Williamson is just six games into his pro career, which was delayed by injury. But Williamson has begun to approach some of the sky-high expectations conveyed after he was chosen with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Williamson is averaging 19.5 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 61.5% from the floor. More importantly for Coach Alvin Gentry and the Pelicans, he has shown improvement game-by-game.
The 42-7 Milwaukee Bucks bring the best record in the NBA to the Crescent City. Antetokounmpo is a decisive favorite to repeat as NBA MVP in 2020, fetching a -227 price at 888sport. Antetokounmpo’s numbers are as powerful as his video resume with 30 points and 13.8 boards over 45 games.
Both teams were off Monday but played on Sunday. Brandon Ingram scored 28 points and Williamson added 21 and 10 rebounds for New Orleans in a 117-109 loss at Houston. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo nearly delivered a triple-double (30-19-9) as the Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 129-108 in Milwaukee.
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The Bucks are a 6-point road favorite, according to odds posted at SugarHouse and -240 on the moneyline at William Hill. The Pelicans are +205 on the money line at SugarHouse. Meanwhile, the total stands at 245 points, according to the numbers at PointsBet.
NBA fans and bettors can follow the action via the NBACast, co-hosted by NBA experts Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux, starting at 7:30 p.m. The #NBACast offers live, in-game analysis, up-to-the second breakout stats and — as always — will take your questions. The NBACast is sponsored by Bookies.com.
The game will also air on TNT.
The Bucks are on pace to win 70 games and have not lost back-to-back games all season.
They led wire-to-wire in their victory on Sunday over Phoenix for the 12th time this season. In addition to Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have seen 7-foot center Brook Lopez emerge as a threat inside and outside as a three-point shooter. Rounding out the Bucks’ offensive attack is all-star guard Khris Middleton. He scored 25 points Sunday, hitting nine of 15 shots. Middleton is averaging 25.1 points over his past 10 games while shooting 60.3%.
The 20-30 Pelicans may have gotten Williamson too late to make run to the playoffs, but they are 6-4 in their past 10 games. The Pelicans fluttered down the stretch in the loss to Houston on Sunday and were outscored 25-16 in the fourth quarter as his teammates failed to get Williamson the ball when he most needed it.
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Looking beyond Tuesday night, the Bucks are at -10000 to win the Central Division at 888sport, -133 to win the Eastern Conference at SugarHouse and +350 to win the 2020 NBA Finals at Caesars. The Pelicans are +50000 to win the Southwest Division at bet365.
Point guards George Hill (hamstring) and Frank Mason (abdomen) are expected to miss the game Tuesday for Milwaukee. Kenrich Williams (back) of the Pelicans missed the game Sunday against the Rockets.
The Bucks beat the Pelicans on Dec. 11 in Milwaukee. Guard Eric Bledsoe led all scorers in that game with 29 points. Neither Williamson nor Antetokounmpo played.