Takeaway from Dallas Mavericks Game 1 playoff loss to Jazz: 2. Kleber struggles
Maxi Kleber missed the final four regular-season games with ankle soreness, and he had not played in a game since April 1. After nearly two weeks off, he returned for Game 1, but the rust was there.
Kleber finished with ten points and four rebounds in 24 minutes of action, but he shot just two of seven from the field and the Mavericks were outscored by 13 with him on the floor.
The 6’10 big man was just a step slow on Saturday afternoon. Utah was comfortable leaving him open, and he made a clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes. Kleber had a chance to give Dallas the lead with just 1:34 remaining, but he missed a wide-open corner 3-pointer. The 30-year-old was certainly not in peak form for Game 1.
Hopefully, Maxi Kleber can improve his conditioning and find his shooting stroke. The Dallas Mavericks need him in this series. Kleber is the team’s best rim protector and one of their top defenders. Dallas needs to stay in the game with defense, especially if Luka Doncic is not going to play. Kleber is a key piece of that mix, but he must be better moving forward.