DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves will go head-to-head in the Western Conference Finals. Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves enter the series as the favorite, but Luka Doncic and the Mavs have consistently found ways to upset the odds. Maxi Kleber, the Mavericks veteran forward, is dealing with a shoulder injury, however.

Dallas has not ruled Kleber out for the remainder of the postseason. He could return at some point. However, it is not certain if a return during the Mavericks-Timberwolves series is a possibility. Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said Kleber is “still out” for now, but that the forward “looked good” on Monday.

Kleber has been seen taking shots at practice. On Monday, he ran on the treadmill. That may not seem like a significant update, but the fact that Kleber was running is a good sign. He is not ready to return yet but Kleber seems to be trending in a positive direction.

The Mavs and Timberwolves series will be a matchup that features plenty of stars. But Kidd made it clear that the performance of the role players will be of the utmost importance.

“When you look at star-power, you got plenty of stars in this series,” Kidd said after practice on Monday. “Just understanding Ant, he's a star in this league and also Luka is so I think that's how it's gonna be built. But also I think as we know it's going to be what role players play the best in this series that gives that team the advantage and hopefully were that group.”

Minnesota features two imposing bigs in Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. The Mavs could unquestionably use Kleber in this series as a result.

Mavericks hoping Kleber can return as soon as possible

Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber (42) shoots the ball Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Again, we do not know when Kleber will return. The Mavs are certainly hoping he can re-join the team on the floor as soon as possible.

Minnesota often plays Gobert and Towns on the floor at the same time. Their presences together give the Timberwolves extra length. Additionally, their skillsets translate well alongside one another as Gobert often plays around the basket and is a rim-protector, while Towns can stretch the floor and is one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league.

The Mavericks bigs have performed well in the NBA playoffs. However, Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II do not play on the floor at the same time. They feature similar styles of play and neither center stretches the floor like Kleber or Towns can.

So having Kleber return at some point in this series would be important. He is not the same caliber of rim-protector like Gafford and Lively, and that is okay. The Mavericks need versatility and Kleber would help to stretch and space the floor. He is not as good of a three-point shooter as Towns is, but Kleber is more than capable of knocking shots down from beyond the arc.

Dallas is still going to have an opportunity to compete amid Kleber's absence. Gafford and Lively have been crucial for the Mavs success. Of course, any team that features both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving is going to have a chance to win games.

With that being said, Kleber's injury status will be worth closely monitoring throughout the series.