Mavs’ Dereck Lively II (neck) questionable for Game 5

Dereck Lively II is averaging 8.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in the playoffs.

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Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II, who sat out Game 4 with a sprained neck, has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday’s Game 5 vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves (8:30 ET, TNT).

Lively was injured in the second quarter of Dallas’ 116-107 Game 3 victory but missed the Mavs’ 105-100 Game 4 loss to Minnesota because of the injury. Lively avoided the concussion protocol after holding his head while staying down on the court for several minutes.

The first-round Draft pick out of Duke has been a big boost inside for the Mavericks, forming a tandem with Daniel Gafford that outplayed Minnesota’s big front line of 7-foot-1 Karl-Anthony Towns and 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert while Dallas took a 3-0 lead in the series. The Wolves staved off elimination in Game 4 but still face a 3-1 series deficit.

Lively is averaging 8.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks per game and is shooting 65.3% in the 2024 playoffs.

The Mavs tried to make up for Lively’s absence in Game 4 with the return of Maxi Kleber, who had been out with a separated right shoulder since he took a hard fall in the deciding Game 6 of the first-round series against the LA Clippers on May 3.

Kleber, who was wearing a protective sleeve on the shoulder, scored two points in 13 minutes.

He isn’t quite the rim protector or pick-and-roll player that Lively and Gafford are, but he offers a solid inside presence. On offense, the Mavs mostly count on Kleber as a 3-point threat.

The 32-year-old German was 10-for-18 from deep against the Clippers and is a 40% 3-point shooter in 37 career playoff games. Kleber made a layup in the second quarter but was short on both 3-point attempts.

In his first game this postseason without Lively, Gafford made all six of his shots for 12 points with eight rebounds.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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