- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Suffice to say, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound banger is looking forward to Friday night’s Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Everybody in the world knows how anxious I am to get back out there and compete and try to get us to a Game 7,” Blair said after Thursday’s practice.
The NBA suspended Blair for kicking Spurs center Tiago Splitter in the head when they were both on the floor after Blair was called for a foul with 3:08 remaining in Game 4. The officials ejected Blair for a “hostile act,” but he claimed after the game that the kick was an emotional reaction to the call, not intended for his former teammate.
Blair declined comment when asked Thursday if he thought the suspension was justified. Mavs owner Mark Cuban said before Game 5 that he believed the league office made a mistake.
“I thought it was wrong,” Cuban said. “It wasn’t intentional. I thought it was wrong.
“I don’t have any say in the matter. But I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”
The Mavs certainly could have used Blair, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes during Game 4. There’s no guarantee that Blair would have solved the Mavs’ major problems defending the pick-and-roll, but he surely would have at least delivered a hard foul or two to interrupt the Spurs’ layup line.
“We missed him last night,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “There’s no doubt about that. When you’re on the road in a hostile environment, you need physical guys. So it hurt not having him. So it’ll be good to have him back.”
The Mavs need Blair to play with the kind of fire he had in Game 4, when he was a major catalyst for the comeback that fell short.
This is an especially emotional series for him, considering the Spurs showed no interest in re-signing him last summer, and those emotions got the best of him late in Game 4. However, Blair has no intention to tone down his passion.
“Nah, I’m going to leave it all out there. Because it’s win or go home,” Blair said. “That’s the mentality I’m bringing into the game. That’s the mentality I’m going to have the team bring into the game. We know they’re a great basketball team, but like I keep saying, we can play with the best of them and we’ve just got to keep going.”
8hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon