close
close

Maxi Kleber delivers ‘beautiful game’ for Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 win against Clippers

LOS ANGELES – Maxi Kleber, the Dallas Mavericks’ versatile small-ball forward, stepped up on Thursday, contributing significantly to the 123-93 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 at Crypto.com Sand.

Kleber, who had been relatively quiet scoring in previous games, shined by hitting five 3-pointers, adding 15 points to help give the Mavericks a 3-2 series lead.

“The injections I get, I do them,” Kleber said. “This goes for everyone. “When it’s the right shot, you take it and live with the results because it’s the best shot for the team.”

Kleber had faced challenges during the regular season, including a dislocated toe that sidelined him for several games. He recognized the benefit of downtime between the regular season and playoffs.

“I think a little break helped, I was able to go to the gym and increase the reps,” Kleber said. “Before I was dealing with my foot. I know they are going to give me those vaccines. I just have to keep shooting them.”

The forward’s performance in Game 5 marked a significant increase in his scoring output, as he had not surpassed six points in any of the first four games of the series. It was a timely contribution, especially considering the Mavericks’ shooting woes, helping to open the floor for his teammates Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

“It’s very important for us that Luka and Kai lead the offense,” Kleber said. “The more they attack, the defense will collapse and everyone else will be left open. “That’s how we create those shots.”

Doncic appreciated the impact Kleber provided, making it easier to operate in the halfcourt by having a spatial threat who makes timely shots.

“Unbelievable, man,” Doncic said. “I think we created a lot of open shots. And Maxi knocking down three in a row, that helped. The entire team, the energy, the bench were involved in the game. He was very big today. Big shots.”

Irving praises Kleber, describing him as a “beautiful game.” It’s a designation he rarely offers.

“He had a beautiful game tonight and I don’t use that word lightly,” Irving said of Kleber. “I don’t even say that about people’s games, but tonight she was beautiful just because of her positioning, her jump shots and her poise.”

In describing Kleber’s impact, Irving praised how the veteran big man stayed ready to shoot when he was spacing the floor. It is an approach that Irving emphasizes to the entire team and that in the playoffs it is vital to make the opponent respect.

“If you look back at some of the film, he was ready to shoot. And that’s what we need from all of our guys, not just Maxi,” Irving said. “But when we get that addition of scoring off the bench, and defensively we’re in the right spots, then it looks good. So it was a beautiful game for him, and he was in the right spots quite often.”

Kidd emphasized Kleber’s integral role on both sides of the court, emphasizing how he has played his role at a “very high level” for the Mavericks. He has often been the option to close out games as a small ball center while also being able to play alongside Daniel Gafford or Dereck Lively II during the early parts of games.

“Maxi’s role doesn’t change,” Kidd said. “He’s there to help defensively and on the offensive end to space the floor and knock down open threes or make a play for a teammate. His role has not changed and he is performing his role at a very high level right now.”

Kleber, modest about his outstanding play, highlighted the team’s collective effort. The Mavericks bench contributed 52 points in the victory, with Kleber’s performance being the highlight in a complete team effort.

“It doesn’t matter who is playing very well for us,” Kleber said. “If we score or win, it doesn’t matter who it is, we celebrate together. Obviously, it’s a nice feeling to be that guy and make the shots and make them too. But overall, you just want to win as a team and make the right plays.”

As the series returns to Dallas for Game 6, the Mavericks look to build on their current momentum to close it out at home.