Maxi Kleber (ankle) out vs. Bucks: Who steps up for Dallas Mavericks?

Dallas Mavericks, Maxi Kleber
Dallas Mavericks, Maxi Kleber / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks need every win they can muster over the final four if they want to move back into third in the Western Conference. They are currently one game behind the Golden State Warriors with just four left to play in the regular season. Dallas holds the tiebreaker, but they need help to climb back up the standings.

The Mavs travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Sunday afternoon in a crucial game for both teams in the playoff standings. The Bucks are trying to stay in second in the Eastern Conference, so expect the defending champions to be at their best in the nationally televised showdown.

The Mavericks will be out Maxi Kleber as he was ruled out with right ankle soreness. He is one of five Dallas players that will miss Sunday’s game. Who will step up without Kleber and what does it mean for the team moving forward?

Maxi Kleber out vs. Bucks: Who steps up for Dallas Mavericks?

Milwaukee is a problematic matchup to miss Kleber because he is the team’s best option to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kleber has the size and quickness to hang with the Greek Freak when he drives, but Dallas will have to defend by committee on Sunday afternoon.

The decisions will be difficult for Mavs head coach Jason Kidd. If they switch Dorian Finney-Smith onto Giannis, that leaves Reggie Bullock on Khris Middleton and Jalen Brunson to defend Jrue Holiday. In the closing lineup, coach Jason Kidd can use Spencer Dinwiddie on Holiday. It is what the Mavericks will have to do without Kleber, but it is far from the ideal strategy. If Dallas struggles, do not be surprised to see some zone or traps to try to slow down the Bucks.

Kleber’s absence opens more playing time for Davis Bertans and Marquese Chriss. The Mavericks will need the defense on Sunday afternoon, so do not be surprised to see Chriss playing over 20 minutes off the bench.

Callie Caplan reported that Kleber’s injury does not look serious. The Dallas Mavericks need him in the playoffs, so they are likely being cautious with the 6’10 forward. There should be zero long-term worries, but he will miss Sunday’s game in Milwaukee. Will it be the difference? Be sure to tune in to find out.

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