DALLAS - With the NBA playoffs approaching, the Dallas Mavericks have managed to rack up wins despite dealing with injuries to key players, including Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber.
With just five games remaining, the Mavericks are running out of regular season games to get injured players back onto the court and into rhythm before Game 1 of their first-round playoff series begins.
Kleber is currently dealing with an Achilles injury and has been sidelined for three consecutive games. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle made it clear that he's 'making progress' but doesn't expect him to play on Sunday.
“I do believe he’s going to travel." Carlisle said. "He’s making progress. I don’t see him playing Sunday. That’s just my personal opinion.”
Carlisle had even less information about a potential return for Porzingis. He did participate in an on-court workout prior to the Mavericks' 110-90 win over the Cavaliers on Friday.
“I’m not as certain where he is exactly," Carlisle said. "But, look, we got to go with what we got and who’s available. It’s been next-man-up all year and we got to keep it that way.”
The Mavericks have adjusted to not having Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis by involving Dorian Finney-Smith and Willie Cauley-Stein more than usual. Both players have stepped up in needed ways.
Carlisle made it clear that he is confident in his three alternative center options including Cauley-Stein along with Dwight Powell and Boban Marjanovic. When needed, he trusts the small ball personnel the team can deploy.
“We obviously need him back,” Carlisle said. “We have a little different style of play when he’s unavailable. Our guys have done a good job with that. We have a three-headed center with (Willie Cauley-Stein, Dwight Powell and Boban Marjanovic). We try to just figure it out. Some nights, we got to play smaller like tonight with a lot of little guys running round out there. And other nights you play bigger.
“But not having Kleber or Porzingis puts us in a more precarious situation. But we just got to figure it out. Five games left. Every game, super meaningful. We understand it.”
The Mavericks do not have a single matchup with a team currently in the playoff picture. If either player can get back onto the court, they will have favorable circumstances to work their way back.