Mavericks veteran proves he deserves more minutes against Timberwolves

Dallas Mavericks, Dante Exum
Dallas Mavericks, Dante Exum / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After rattling off five straight playoff victories, the Dallas Mavericks could have just lost their most crucial game of the season. In a pivotal Game 4 that saw the Mavericks battling without the likes of rookie center Dereck Lively II after a scary collision in the previous game, Dallas would lose 105-100.

With Minnesota forcing a Game 5, Dallas will need much better production out of both Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. Irving shot an abysmal 6 of 18 from the field while turning the ball over when it mattered most with seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter.

Despite Maxi Kleber returning from a shoulder injury that has kept him out of play since May 3, Dallas lacked energy and focus throughout large stretches of this game. The Mavs did counter in the second quarter by tying up the game at the half with a flurry of production off the bench.

Dante Exum proves he deserves more minutes against Timberwolves

One player who contributed to the Mavericks closing in the score during the second quarter was Dante Exum. After an auspicious regular season, Exum has lost all momentum during this playoff run. The Australian hasn't just lost his shooting touch but he has also lost his role within the Mavericks eight-man rotation.

With Josh Green and Jaden Hardy surpassing Exum in the playoff rotation, it's been hard for the 6-foot-5 guard to see the floor. However, after a second-quarter run, Exum's time on the floor could be extended.

In the second quarter, Exum exploded for five points that included a made three from the right wing, and a fallaway contested mid-ranger over Mike Conley. After struggling for over a month, seeing Exum drain a wide-open shot from behind the arc was a sigh of relief for many fans.

Despite only clocking four minutes played in this contest, Exum managed to outplay his Australian teammate, Josh Green. Green has paved out a nice role during this Dallas playoff run with his aggressive defense and ability to run in transition. With Green struggling some over the last few games, Exum could be the perfect substitution.

Offensively, Exum has been a great floor spacer and ball handler when it's not in the hands of Luka Doncic or Kyrie Irving during the regular season. If Exum can tap into some of his regular season form, Dallas could be forced to extend their rotation.

Exum has yet to lap Green in the rotation but could be a prime candidate to see some time on the floor as the Mavericks look to take care of business in Game 5. With the Mavericks only a win away from the NBA Finals, all eyes will be on Exum as the Mavericks look for another jolt of energy off the bench.

For more updates on the Dallas Mavericks and their playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, stay plugged in.