Mavericks key veteran 'on course' to return from injury at perfect time

Dallas Mavericks, Maxi Kleber
Dallas Mavericks, Maxi Kleber / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

Tonight, the Dallas Mavericks have the chance to do something that has only happened for them twice since 1980.

Make the NBA Finals.

Dallas leads the Minnesota Timberwolves 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals, and a win on their home floor would push them through to the NBA Finals to battle the Boston Celtics.

While all of Dallas is ecstatic for their home team's opportunity to make history, Game 4 against Minnesota isn't going to be easy as they'll likely be without rookie center Dereck Lively II. Lively II suffered a neck sprain in Game 3, but the Mavs could be getting the return of one of their key role players for Game 4.

Maxi Kleber is 'on course' to return from injury for Game 4

According to a report from Marc Stein, Mavs veteran forward Maxi Kleber is "on course" to return to the lineup tonight after being out since May 3 with a fully dislocated AC joint in his right shoulder. This injury happened when Amir Coffey tried to take a charge as Kleber drove to the rim against the LA Clippers, and he took a hard fall to the floor and landed on his side and shoulder.

This injury was scary for anyone who was in attendance as Kleber was obviously in serious pain, but he remained in the game to shoot his two free throws from the foul he drew before heading back to the locker room.

Kleber is still officially listed as questionable ahead of Game 4, and his potential return could change everything for Dallas. His ability to play the small-ball five has been missed, and his return is happening at the perfect time considering that Lively II likely won't play in Game 4.

The return of Kleber would allow Jason Kidd to play him at both the four and the five while also not having to rely on Dwight Powell to play consistent minutes. Kleber is a huge upgrade over Powell, and he is the only player on the roster (outside of P.J. Washington) who can effectively play the small-ball center.

Having another 6-foot-10 body down low will only help Dallas, and time will tell if he can return to the elite shooting numbers that he displayed in the first round of the playoffs. At the very least, Kleber is someone who can guard multiple positions, space the floor, and take up some minutes, and Mavs fans should be excited if he does indeed return tonight for Game 4.

For all the latest on Maxi Kleber, Dereck Lively II, and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Finals, stay tuned.