15 Footer 1/29/12: Let the Bustin’ Begin

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Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat (3:30pm EST)

Busted Up: Luol Deng

Earlier in the week, Deng had intimated he might be ready for this showdown between the two best teams in the East. It was a classic example of  an athlete foolishly embracing the warrior complex. Luol just needs to sit his butt down for a bit and let his torn wrist ligament heal. Sounds like he may have got the message:

Luol Deng said on the Bulls.com pregame show that he thinks he will be out another week, at least, which makes him unlikely to play Sunday at Miami.

Unless “another week” elapses in a few hours time, Luol ain’t suitin’ up. Nonetheless, an enjoyable game should be had by all and hopefully Dwyane Wade gets to dunkin’ like he did on Friday night.

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics (6pm EST)

Bustin’ Loose: Mickael Pietrus

Now in his 9th season, Pietrus is enjoying his best season his days in Golden State. His ppg are the 2nd highest of his career and his three point percentage of 42.2% is easily the best of his career. Most importantly, his play has allowed Boston to mothball Sasha Pavlovic. Merely moving from a “shouldn’t be in the league” player to an average player is a huge step up for any rotation.

The sample size is small in this adolescent season, but Pietrus is operating with 117 : 102 offensive to defensive rating. Pavlovic meanwhile is a worrisome 80 : 97. As I said, a huge step up.

Toronto Raptors vs. New Jersey Nets (6pm EST)

Bustin’ Loose: Jordan Farmar

Don’t look now, but everyone’s favorite agriculturally-themed basketball player is having one hell of a season for a backup point guard. This is easily turning into his best campaign ever. He’s averaging 10 points and 3.3 assists in a mere 20 minutes per game thanks to his sizzling shooting: 47% FG, 45% 3PT, and 90% FT. All of those are career highs. As is his PER of 19.5, which is all-star level. Most striking of all is that Farmar has managed to reach parity with his offensive and defensive ratings, both at 113. His career average is 103 : 108.

Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic (6pm EST)

Busted Up: Dwight Howard

Now, Mr. Howard was practically the only Magic player to show up for Friday’s embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Hornets, but his choice words after the game leave much to be desired:

“It hurts me to get out there and play your hardest. I expect everybody to play the same. I’m not calling anybody out by no means because we all have to get better … but if you don’t want to be out there, don’t dress up.

Truthfully, the Magic needed to be called out after that hideous performance against New Orleans and the collapse against Boston,  but there a couple things wrong with Dwight’s message. Firstly, he’s asked to be traded. It’s hard to be galvanized by a man who no longer wants to be on your team. Despite being the best player for years now in Orlando, Dwight’s moral authority here is undercut by the constant chirping about trades and needing a better PG and etc., etc.

Secondly, if you’re calling out your teammates, don’t say you’re not calling them out. Publicly going on at length about the shortcomings your mates have exhibited  is indeed a “call out”. Passive aggressiveness isn’t going to make matters better. How does the phrase go… privately scold, publicly praise… something like that. I don’t quite remember.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks (6:30pm EST)

Busted Up: Jason Kidd

Father time has caught up with Kidd and it is not pretty. I jokingly said on Twitter that Kidd may be the 1st player to literally average a 5/5/5 for the season. With his abysmal shooting he may not be able to keep his scoring average above 4, though. His percentages are just shockingly bad, even for a traditionally terrible shooter like himself. An eye-gouging 28% FG, a tortuous 25.8% from downtown and a pleasant 80% from the charity stripe, which is pretty much moot since he takes 0.3 FTs a game.

The FT attempts are easily a career-low, which tells you he isn’t penetrating anymore. And the percentage of his shots that are three pointers is simply astounding. 84.6% of Jason Kidd’s shot attempts have been from three-point range. That’s just… wow. Even 3-specialists like Anthony Morrow, Steve Kerr and James Jones have never let 3s take up that much of their offense. And they all hit for a much higher percentage than Kidd’s 25.8%.

At least Jason is still grabbing 1.6 steals a game. Bright side.

 Atlanta Hawks vs. New Orleans Hornets (7pm EST)

Bustin’ Loose: Jason Smith

With Captain Caveman being shelved until a proper trade suitor can be found, Jason Smith is looking at a lot of minutes at PF and C to sop up. Generally, this season he has shown to be a capable steward of the position. 8.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 20 minutes a night. In his last 5 games, he has turned up the heat a tad with 9.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 1.4 bpg while bringing 55% shooting from the field. He’s not turning into Buck Williams anytime soon, but Smith is more ably rounding out the defensive and offensive ends. Like Farmar above, he’s been finally able to reach parity with his offensive and defensive ratings (101) after a career of being a net negative on the court.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (7pm EST)

Busted Up: Devin Ebanks

He’s no Kevin Eubanks

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets (8pm EST)

Bustin’ Loose: Danilo Gallinari

Just got paid $42 million and in is drawing rave reviews in comparison to Carmelo Anthony. Just to stir the pot: Gallo gets 1.5 points per shot taken, Melo 1.18. Gallo must be listening to Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers non-stop with that kind of way out production.

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Seth Carstens