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

Dallas Mavericks, Maxi Kleber
Dallas Mavericks, Maxi Kleber / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks announced that Maxi Kleber will miss Thursday’s game against the Golden State Warriors with an ankle injury. The 6’10 big man is a key to the Mavs defensive improvements. He can defend on the perimeter and protect the rim, and Dallas does not have a replacement on their roster.

Kleber popped up on the injury report on Thursday afternoon with what the team described as “right ankle soreness”. It will be the 18th game that Maxi has missed this season, and the Mavericks are 9-8 in the previous 17. Hopefully, he can return on Saturday night when Dallas hosts the Kings.

Since the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Kleber has been the team’s backup center, and he is averaging just over 25.5 minutes per game. Who steps up with him out on Thursday night?

Who steps for the Dallas Mavericks with Maxi Kleber out?

Head coach Jason Kidd noted in his pregame presser that Davis Bertans will fill Kleber’s role as the backup center. Bertans will allow Dallas to space the floor and play small. The team may struggle on the glass and to protect the rim, though.

Kidd also wants to take a look at his superstar playing the five. Tim MacMahon tweeted this about an hour before tipoff on Thursday night.

It will be interesting to see what pairing coach Kidd uses around Doncic at the five. Jalen Brunson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Reggie Bullock, and Dorian Finney-Smith could give Dallas a dynamic group with plenty of ball-handling and playmaking on the floor. Teams will go small in the playoffs, so Kidd should be searching for his most effective small ball groupings.

Maxi Kleber’s injury was described as soreness, but it is something to watch. He was slowed in last year’s playoffs by an Achilles issue, and the Dallas Mavericks need him producing in the postseason. Stay tuned to The Smoking Cuban for updates as they become available.

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