Dallas Mavericks: Maxi Kleber brings energy, shows rust in return vs. Suns
By Tyler Watts
The Dallas Mavericks have dealt with COVID issues this season. They had five players out in the health and safety protocols for a stretch. Maxi Kleber returned on Feb. 1 after missing 11 straight games to give the Mavs a fully healthy roster for the first time this season.
The team missed Kleber tremendously. He is one of the Mavericks’ best defenders and 3-point shooters. His ability as a stretch four that can defend on the perimeter and in the paint is unmatched on the roster. The Mavs were 24th in defensive rating and 21st in offensive during his absence.
Kleber gave Dallas a boost in his first game back, but he showed rust too. The Mavericks lost a heartbreaker against the Suns. Let us take a closer look at his performance and examining what to expect from the 29-year-old moving forward.
Maxi Kleber gives Dallas Mavericks energy versus Suns
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle decided to start Kleber at the four on Feb. 1. They shifted Tim Hardaway Jr. to the bench as the team played their best defensive lineup. Kleber missed three-plus weeks of action, so the plan was keep him around 20 minutes on Monday night.
Maxi brought the energy from the opening tip. He followed in a Dorian Finney-Smith lay-up for what turned out to be his only points on Monday night.
Kleber also blocked Deandre Ayton at the summit in the first quarter on Feb. 1.
It was not the perfect performance. Kleber air-balled his lone 3-point attempt against the Suns as he finished one of five from the field. The 6’10 big man also committed two turnovers, but the rust was to be expected after a long absence.
Expect Maxi Kleber to continue starting. He will work his work way back into game shape in no time. Kleber improves the Dallas Mavericks defense and gives them another floor spacer to help Luka Doncic thrive. Do not be surprised to see a new career-high in minutes and 3-point percentage. The best is yet to come from Kleber and the Mavs. Do not miss it.