Bucks hot on the Celtics heals

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Bucks hot on the Celtics heals

MILWAUKEE Fear the Deer is more than just an antiquated catch-phrase that once upon a time was applicable to the Milwaukee Bucks.

It is real right now!

No team in the Eastern Conference is playing better basketball than the Bucks, who come into tonight's game against Boston riding a six-game winning streak.

Milwaukee (21-24) has risen from an injury-riddled club bound for the NBA lottery, to one that's entrenched in the playoff race with the likes of the Celtics (24-21) just a couple games ahead of them.

The Bucks are currently in ninth place in the East after a 4-9 start to the season.

"They've played well, they're playing together and they're making shots," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "They're just cranking; they're playing well."

In the midst of their recent run, the Bucks added high-scoring guard Monta Ellis via a trade with Golden State, giving Milwaukee a lethal backcourt scoring tandem with Ellis (21.6 points per game) paired with Brandon Jennings who has been the Bucks' top scorer this season with 18.8 points per game.

"Monta's a great scorer," said Jennings, who added that the trade did come as a surprise. "I'm happy to have him. He can take a lot of pressure off me and a lot of other players out here."br>
Bucks coach Scott Skiles acknowledged that there were discussion about whether to pursue the trade when at the time, Milwaukee was riding a then-four game winning streak.

"You can't make every trade based on what's happening now," Skiles said. "It's also got to be based on looking forward. Hopefully anytime you make a roster move, you're thinking about short-term and long term, and not necessarily in that order."

In addition to Ellis, Milwaukee also added former first-round pick Ekpe Udoh who provides added depth for the Bucks front court.

"So far, Monta and Ekpe have fit in really well," Skiles said. "We just have to hope to keep it going."

Avery Bradley (Achilles) returning to Celtics lineup vs. Hawks

Avery Bradley (Achilles) returning to Celtics lineup vs. Hawks

BOSTON – The wait is finally over for the Boston Celtics and Avery Bradley.
 
Bradley will return to the Celtics starting lineup tonight after having missed the previous 18 games (and 22 out of 23) with a right Achilles injury.
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will play with a minutes restriction for the first week, and adjust accordingly.
 
Although Jaylen Brown has done a solid job filling in for Bradley with the first unit, Stevens had every intention of Bradley returning as a starter.
 
“He’s our starting two-guard,” Stevens said. “We started the year really well as far as that group playing together. We haven’t had that group playing together very often. Jaylen and Marcus (Smart) are both able to give us a lot off the bench as well as if we need to plug them into a (starting) lineup later on. We feel good about that.”
 
As far as handling Bradley’s minutes this week, Stevens has a very simple approach to what he needs to do.
 
“I’m just going to play him in the first couple of stints,” Stevens said. “And when his minutes run out he won’t play anymore. It is hard if you’re trying to save minutes for the end. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense with getting stiff, sitting for a long time, coming off a long lay-off.”
 
Bradley is the Celtics’ second-leading scorer at 17.7 points per game along with a team-high 6.9 rebounds. A first-team All-NBA Defender last season, Bradley is also shooting a career-high 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

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Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.