The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal series on Friday night. Superstar Luka Doncic played the starring role by narrowly missing a 26-point triple-double, but Dallas got contributions up and down the lineup. Jalen Brunson finally got going as he lead the team with 28 points. Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock hounded the Suns' star duo and made shots on the other end, but Maxi Kleber was the unsung hero of the night.
Dallas needs Kleber at his best to defeat the more talented Suns. The 6’10 forward is the team’s best rim protector and the key to their small ball lineup. Kleber made five 3-pointers in Game 1, and he was virtually the only player that provided support to Luka Doncic. In Game 2, Kleber played 28 minutes but faded into the background. There is nothing flashy about his game, but he helps the Mavericks win.
Kleber produced 14 points, three rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in 33 minutes in the Game 3 win. Fans saw many of the things that make him great on a nightly basis plus a few unexpected tricks from the big man.
Maxi Kleber shows off skill set in Dallas Mavericks Game 3 win over Suns
Kleber had three help-side blocks on Devin Booker in Game 3, which were the most he produced in a game since March 13. The Mavericks' entire defense was locked in on Friday night, and they held the Suns to under 120 points and 50 percent shooting from the field for the first time in this series. Keeping Phoenix to 94 points is a near-impossible task, but Dallas did it in Game 3.
It was Kleber’s offensive game that stood out against the Suns. Fans know about his jumper, but he showed off other facets on May 6.
Kleber started his night with a pick and pop 3-pointer from superstar Luka Doncic. It was a play fans have seen thousands of times, but the 6’10 diversified from there. On his next possession, he did a pick and pop with Spencer Dinwiddie, but Devin Booker was too worried about the ball and Kleber drove past him for a slam.
Later in the second quarter, Kleber attacked a Deandre Ayton closeout for a driving layup.
According to NBA Stats, Kleber made just 32 layups during the regular season, and it was a part of his game fans had not seen much this year. Head coach Jason Kidd has encouraged players to expand their games, but it did not pay off for Maxi until Game 3 of their second-round playoff series.
Kleber was not done there. He even showed off a little mid-range pull-up game against the Suns on Friday night.
It was an impressive performance that even featured him sealing Chris Paul in the paint for an easy score in the fourth quarter. Fans know about Maxi Kleber’s defense, but his offensive game shined as the Dallas Mavericks picked up arguably their best win of the season.
The Mavs need Maxi Kleber to keep showing up on both ends of the floor if they want to defeat the Phoenix Suns. He will continue to be a key piece of their rotation, and he is ready to help Dallas keep winning.