Mavericks key veteran's return from injury could be sooner than expected

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

Tonight, the Dallas Mavericks take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in Minneapolis.

Dallas is coming off a huge 108-105 win in Game 1, and Luka Doncic and Kyrie dominated. Doncic and Irving combined for 63 points in this game, and Irving made Edwards look silly for his bold comments before the series that he wanted to guard him.

The play of Dereck Lively II was also outstanding, as he was seemingly grabbing every rebound and always making the right play. Daniel Gafford had a bit of a rough start to the game, but he bounced back in the second half with a couple of dunks early.

Maxi Kleber's return from injury could be sooner than expected

Dallas' center duo of Lively II and Gafford has been solid in these playoffs, but it was even better before Maxi Kleber got injured in Game 6 against the LA Clippers. Kleber was going up for a layup on Amir Coffey, and took a hard fall to the floor and suffered a full dislocation of the AC joint in his right shoulder.

Kleber has been out since May 3, and he has started to do some light activity in practice recently. He was seen shooting free throws and doing some shooting during the open period of Mavs practice last week, and Jason Kidd said that Kleber was making some progress.

On May 5, Mavs PR tweeted that Kleber would be re-evaluated for his shoulder injury in three weeks, and the three-week mark from May 5 just happens to be on Sunday (May 26), the same day that the Mavs take on the Timberwolves in Game 3. This isn't to say that Kleber will be back for Game 3, but his return could be closer than some fans realize.

Kidd didn't rule out the possibility that Kleber returns at some point in the playoffs, and him returning in the Western Conference Finals against the Timberwolves would be huge for this team. Kleber was automatic from downtown against the Clippers to open the playoffs, and his versatility is invaluable.

His ability to switch on the perimeter is outstanding, and he could be lethal against Minnesota later in this series. Kleber could draw Rudy Gobert out to the 3-point line, and that could allow the Mavs to do even more damage in the paint.

Not rushing Kleber back is obviously a priority as he is a key piece of Dallas' future, but things could get scary for the rest of the league if he can return in the playoffs. His re-evaluation date crept up on everyone, and only time will tell how much progress Kleber has actually been making through the rehab of his injured shoulder.

For all the latest on Maxi Kleber and the Dallas Mavericks throughout their run through the 2024 NBA Playoffs, stay tuned.