Tim Hardaway Jr. of Dallas Mavericks returns from an ankle injury

Dallas Mavericks

Tim Hardaway Jr.’s return to the starting lineup, after he’s been involved in numerous practice sessions since Game 6 of the team’s first-round playoff series, is a lift for the Dallas Mavericks.

OKLAHOMA CITY In the Western Conference semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Maxi Kleber—a vital player for the Dallas Mavericks—will not be available. But Tim Hardaway Jr.’s return to the starting lineup following his recovery from a right ankle strain is a positive sign for them. Ever since Game 6 of the team’s first-round playoff series, he has taken part in several practices.

Hardaway, who sprained his right ankle in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, will be available for Tuesday’s Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to a statement made on Monday by Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. Although Hardaway’s return adds a much-needed scoring punch off the bench, Kleber’s absence is a big blow.

Kidd remarked, “It’s unfortunate to lose Maxi.” “Maxi was doing a good job for us both on defense and off. Regaining Timmy, nonetheless, is a positive thing. Timmy’s playoff experience will be vital as we will need him to come off the bench to provide some scoring.”

Hardaway, who shot 40.2% from the field and 35.3% from outside the arc in 79 games this season, averaged 14.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Hardaway will be counted on to step in and help cover the vacuum created by Kleber’s absence.

Given that Chet Holmgren anchors the Thunder’s formidable half-court defense with rim protection, Hardaway’s outside shooting may prove advantageous. When Hardaway hits multiple 3-pointers during the season, the Mavericks have gone 37–20. However, taking into account the constraints, one must take into consideration a natural balance when accounting for defensive impact.

The Mavericks won’t be able to use as many lineup combinations without Kleber, which will make it easier for Hardaway and Dante Exum to get into the game.

Without Kleber, the Mavericks will find it difficult to use larger lineup configurations, which will open up more opportunities for Hardaway and Dante Exum to assume significant roles off the bench. Because Oklahoma City doesn’t use a lot of large perimeter players, this is even more crucial.

Despite the loss, Dallas hopes to go far in the playoffs with Hardaway back in the fold. His scoring prowess and playoff history will be invaluable in the matchup versus Oklahoma City.

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