Mavericks center DeJuan Blair has been suspended for game after kicking Tiago Splitter in the head in what was deemed as a "hostile action" by the league:
NBA has suspended DeJuan Blair for Game 5 tomorrow night for last night's 4th quarter kick to Tiago Splitter— Mark Followill (@MFollowill) April 29, 2014
Blair had only played 21 minutes in the series before coming in and providing a spark in Monday's game, playing 16 minutes and scoring 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting before he was ejected by the kick.
What it means
Whether the kick was intended or not, I honestly don't know. Some of the people on twitter were absolutely for sure that Blair did it intentionally, and he may well have. But watching the replay, it certainly appeared to me as if it was an reactionary extension of his legs, as Blair himself said.
But he made contact with Splitter, so unfortunate or not, the suspension is not particularly surprising.
Blair had been a negative in the first three games, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him play as well as he did on both ends in Game 4. If he could have continued the same success in Game 5, the Mavericks will miss him. But the backup center hasn't been particularly consistent this season, eventually being surpassed in the rotation by Brandan Wright, so there's no guarantee he would.
To me, the bigger loss is being thrown out from Game 4 with three minutes to play. His ejection changed momentum and, just as importantly, gave the Spurs a couple of free points in a game that was too close to call at that point.
It's unfortunate that the Mavericks won't have all hands all deck. Gal Mekel will likely take his active spot on the bench, although since Larkin is healthy, it's possible Carlisle opts for Ricky Ledo.