By now all of Spurs nation is accepting the Spurs less than stellar exit out of the 2010 NBA playoffs at the hands of the Phoenix Suns. With that, this will be the final chapter of "Earning his Spurs" as I followed Spurs rookie, DeJuan Blair in his first taste of the NBA playoffs.
Blair played in the his last playoff game as a rookie on Sunday, and the fear of elimination was evident in his play. Blair finished zero for three from the field with no points, three rebounds, one assist, and one turnover in six minutes and 37 seconds of play.
Blair replaced Tim Duncan with 3:42 left in the first and the Spurs up 18-11. On his third offensive trip down the court, Blair missed a lay-up, fought for his own offensive rebound, but was unable to finish, missing his second attempt.
The second quarter, which Blair started, wasn't much better then the first. Blair was blocked at the start of the second by Louis Amundson. Then after a missed George Hill jump shot and a Matt Bonner turnover, Blair committed only his second turnover of the playoffs, leading to a Jared Dudley lay-up and bringing the Suns within two with a 23-25 score. Duncan replace Blair at the 10:25 mark in the second.
Blair replaced Duncan again with 5:45 seconds left in the fourth, but only played for one minute and 20 seconds. He did collect his second offensive rebound off a missed Jefferson jump shot, and kicked it out to Bonner who connected on a jump shot of his own. Duncan came back in for Blair with 4:25 left in the game.
For the series Blair averaged only 9.3 minutes per contest, but shot 60 percent from the field, averaging three points, 3.3 rebounds and one steal per game. Blair finished his first playoff run averaging 3.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 0.4 blocks while shooting 50 percent from the floor in only 9.1 minutes per game. Blair's minutes were cut in half during the playoffs, cutting his 7.8 points and 6.4 rebound a game averages during the regular season in half.
But Blair showed tremendous upside in the limited minutes he played during the playoffs. Not many players can change the momentum of a game in only a couple plays, but Blair was able too by diving for loose balls, sliding across the floor, making great hustle plays. He was consistently one of the smaller big men on the court, but at times, Blair played like he was ten feet tall, using his bigger, wider frame to help him create space around basket and finish at the rim.
The Spurs have found a player in Blair that can help lead them into this new decade. While he might not be a franchise player, Blair is a player who is willing to get nasty and do all the dirty work, like a Dennis Rodman or a John Salley. We Spurs fans should be excited, because with Blair as well as George Hill, the Spurs have two young players that are capable of becoming stars.
I hope you enjoyed this series as I chronicled Blair's performance but what were your thoughts on the rookie? Leave us your comments.