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St. Francis — Tyler Ennis is making the most of his chance in the Milwaukee Bucks starting lineup.

The 21-year-old point guard knows it might not last much longer, with Michael Carter-Williams getting closer to returning from a left ankle injury.

In the meantime Ennis is doing his best to keep the Bucks offense humming while also working hard on defense.

"I'm doing the same thing I did the last two games, getting guys the ball, making sure the energy is up, pushing the tempo," Ennis said after Monday's practice at the training facility. "On the defensive end I'm trying to pick up as high as possible, pressure the other guards."

Carter-Williams is expected to miss his fourth consecutive game Tuesday night when the Bucks meet the Boston Celtics. Ennis and veteran Greivis Vasquez have shared the point guard duties in his absence, along with some timely help from Jerryd Bayless.

Ennis started and played 16 minutes in the Bucks' 94-86 victory over Brooklyn on Saturday night, and he hit 4 of 9 shots while scoring nine points. He played 17 minutes in a starting role at New York in the Bucks' 99-92 victory Friday.

"Playing with these guys, they're going to focus on them so much, I'm going to have open shots," Ennis said. "If it comes down to the end of the shot clock, that's when I can make plays for myself and for others.

"I think we can really get out and run with the starting group, and that's something I'm going to take on my shoulders."

The Bucks will try to run selectively against the Celtics rather than getting into a track meet with another young team that loves to push the tempo.

"His mannerisms have always been where he's under control and he can run the team," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of Ennis. "He's done that for us and we'll need him to continue to do that while MCW is out.

"You look at the quarters he's played and getting us off to the tempo we want to play at. He's taking shots when they present themselves and he's also running the team."

Ennis laughed when asked about guarding former Phoenix Suns teammate Isaiah Thomas, now the starting point guard for the Celtics.

"I chased him around for six months in Phoenix, so I'm pretty familiar with his game," Ennis said. "He's one of the underrated point guards in the league.

"I'm looking forward to going up against him."

The Suns drafted Ennis with the 18th overall pick in 2014 but had a trio of point guards in front of him, including Thomas, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.

When Phoenix made big changes at the February trade deadline, acquiring Brandon Knight from the Bucks, trading Thomas to the Celtics and sending Dragic to the Miami Heat in separate deals, it also meant a new opportunity for Ennis.

The former Syracuse player came to Milwaukee in the three-team deal that also brought Carter-Williams from Philadelphia.

"In the long run, it helped me a lot," Ennis said of his time in Phoenix. "Competing against those guys in practice is not something every rookie gets to do. I learned a lot from them."

The Brampton, Ontario, native did get one start for the Bucks last season but his playing time was limited as the team pushed to get into the playoffs. He appeared in 25 regular-season games with Milwaukee and averaged 4.0 points, and his only playoff action came in the Game 6 blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Ennis had to take a step back in the summer after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder. It meant he missed the chance to play for the Bucks' entry in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and for the Canadian national team in the FIBA Americas tournament.

But he believes it was the right decision.

"I wanted to get it out of the way and not have to worry about it down the road," Ennis said. "I knew I was going to have a chance to work on my body and gain some weight, things I wouldn't be able to do if I was playing for Team Canada or even summer league."

Ennis said he first hurt the shoulder while playing for the Bucks against New Orleans in a March 9 game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The injury occurred while he was chasing Pelicans guard Norris Cole around a screen and they locked arms.

"That was the first time I ever felt it pop out and not go back in, so I was kind of worried," Ennis said. "I started wearing the T-shirt. But when we were playing in Atlanta I felt it pop out. That's when we knew we had to get it checked out."

Ennis and forward Jabari Parker both had surgeries done by orthopedist David Altchek, the New York Mets team doctor.

Both players returned last week and benefited from practicing against each other.

"That was tough; the conditioning part of playing full-court one-on-one helped me a lot," Ennis said. "Having to guard Jabari Parker one-on-one is not something a lot of people could do.

"It was good for me guarding a bigger guy, using my arm and feeling comfortable, and for him guarding a smaller guy and having to move his feet. It worked out perfectly."
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