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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, March 6th (All times eastern)

Milwaukee Bucks (29-35) at Chicago Bulls (28-34), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Something more than just area bragging rights will be on the line when the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks renew their rivalry tonight at the United Center.

These two Central Division foes, separated by just 90 miles, enter this evening's game in a virtual tie for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey is just a half-game back of the pair in the race, with Charlotte, Indiana and New York also within striking distance.

Chicago comes in as the hotter of the two clubs and has been tough to beat at home as of late. The Bulls posted their fourth straight win at the United Center with Wednesday's 110-88 rout of Golden State, which upped their season record to 18-11 in the Windy City.

In addition, the Bucks have lost six straight times as the visitor in this series and have not won in Chicago since a 93-92 verdict on January 2, 2006. The Bulls are 11-3 over their last 14 overall matchups with Milwaukee.

John Salmons recorded 23 points and nine rebounds in Wednesday's win over the Warriors, while Joakim Noah racked up 14 points and a game-high 17 boards for the Bulls. Brad Miller, who came over along with Salmons in a recent trade with Sacramento, added 19 points on the evening.

Chicago prevailed despite being without forward Luol Deng for a second straight contest. The fifth-year pro, who is averaging 14.1 points and 6.0 rebounds on the year, is dealing with a possible stress fracture in his right leg that could sideline him for the remainder of the season.

The struggling Bucks have dropped six of their last eight games, a stretch which started with a 113-104 home setback to the Bulls on February 18, and have opened up March with back-to-back defeats to New Jersey and Cleveland. In its most recent outing, Milwaukee was no match for the powerful Cavaliers, who cruised to a 91-73 win Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Richard Jefferson netted 29 points for the Bucks, who shot a lousy 37.3 percent from the field and suffered their third straight road loss. Point guard Ramon Sessions delivered 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Milwaukee, which is just 11-23 on the road this season, will embark upon a crucial six-game homestand following tonight's test.

03/06 10:34:10 ET

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