Nobody needs to tell the Dallas Mavericks how important DeJuan Blair has been to this team. Blair is one of those rare players who is not afraid to get down and dirty on the court. He sacrifices himself for loose balls, shoves the opposing players for the rebound and is not afraid to get under a player’s skin on defense.
Blair, who was traded from the San Antonio Spurs in the offseason, has been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mavericks. He brings a certain streetwise toughness to a team that was sorely lacking it last year. With Blair anchoring the second unit, he went out on a personal mission to make sure that nobody was going to push around the Mavs this season.
You get the sense that he is playing with a chip on his shoulder. Blair felt like he earned more playing time in San Antonio, but he often found himself in Spurs coach Gregg Poppvich’s doghouse, after being passed for the likes of Matt Bonner and Tiago Splinter.
Blair felt disrespected and unwanted in the Alamo City. So in a lot of ways, the marriage between Blair and Dallas has been a match made in heaven. He joined a team that has long held a dislike for the Spurs, and Dallas gave Blair the perfect outlet to unleash his anger towards his former team.
It showed in Game 6.
He dove for loose balls with a vengeance, he set vicious picks and pushed around the Spurs front-line all night long. In a sense, Blair finally became a Dallas Maverick on this night. In order to join this club, one of the prime membership requirements is to show no respect to the team that hails three hours south on Interstate 35. Blair passed that test and then some on Friday night.
Blair did everything in his power to push the Mavericks to a Game 7 on Sunday in San Antonio. Without Blair’s rage and dislike to the men in Silver and Black, Dallas would have bowed out of this series in front of its blue-clad fans. But instead, Blair showed the Spurs that the Mavericks would not be pushed around.
For that very reason, the Mavericks have a chance to knock off the No. 1 seed in the West on Sunday.