The Mavs' DeJuan Blair will face his former team, the Spurs, on Thursday night.
There might not be another Mavs big man in the building who has been getting regular minutes.
Samuel Dalembert and Brandan Wright both missed the Mavs’ morning shootaround because they are sick. They’re considered questionable for the Mavs’ first meeting with the Spurs this season.
(UPDATE: Dalembert said 45 minutes before tipoff that he would attempt to play. Wright stayed home.)
This is a game that Blair has had circled on his calendar anyway since the day he arrived in Dallas. He has repeatedly made it clear that he wasn’t fond of the way his four-year tenure in San Antonio ended, with him falling out of the Spurs’ rotation last season before settling for a one-year, veteran-minimum deal with the Mavs.
“It’s going to be fun,” Blair said after shootaround, clearly trying to avoid saying anything that could be considered controversial. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. That’s all I’m saying, man. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Ironically, Blair is coming off his first DNP-CD of his Dallas tenure. He had started the previous eight games before coach Rick Carlisle opted to go with the much taller Dalembert against Houston’s Dwight Howard.
The 6-foot-7, 270-pound Blair, who was limited to mostly mop-up minutes in San Antonio’s playoff run that fell just short of a championship last season, has been a bargain banger for the Mavs. He’s averaging 8.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game, providing the Mavs with a much-needed dose of toughness.
“There’s such a premium on just hard, aggressive play,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We need him to play his game.”
There is a high probability of Blair leaving some bruises on his former teammates Thursday night.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to be wanting some revenge, to a certain degree,” Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. “He’s going to have a little grudge, a little chip on his shoulder. That’s good to be on this side of it, because he’s a handful. We’re going to need that little chip of his to help do some things tonight.”
They’ll likely need Blair a lot more than anticipated with a couple of other big men battling a bug.