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San Antonio Spurs: 3 most important players on two-game road trip

By Rob Wolkenbrod
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts during the preseason game against the Houston Rockets on October 13, 2017 at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts during the preseason game against the Houston Rockets on October 13, 2017 at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 17: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts during the preseason game against the Houston Rockets on October 13, 2017 at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 17: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts during the preseason game against the Houston Rockets on October 13, 2017 at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The San Antonio Spurs are set for a two-game road trip on Tuesday and Wednesday. Who will be needed the most to step up?

The San Antonio Spurs will start the first of a back-to-back on Tuesday. Both games are on the road, with the first against the Dallas Mavericks and the second against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It’s a short road trip for the Spurs, who will attempt to be 10-5 at the end of it. To get there, players will need to step up, as the team remains shorthanded, even with Joffrey Lauvergne and Danny Green‘s impending returns in Dallas.

So, for this two-game trip, let’s look at the three most important players:

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3. Bryn Forbes

Brandon Paul was the talk of the first two weeks of the season. However, Bryn Forbes overtook his spotlight and received quality minutes over the past five games. That includes 34 minutes against the Bulls, replacing the injured Danny Green.

Forbes has made the most of his extended playing time, contributing to the Spurs going 4-1. All of these games saw him play in double-digit minutes.

If Green misses Tuesday’s game, look for the Michigan State product to make his way into the starting lineup. He delivered 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting against the Bulls, and may have the confidence of head coach Gregg Popovich, potentially earning more opportunities. This could happen with or without Green being available.

.@BrynjForbes dropped a team-high 22 in last night's win ? https://t.co/n7sfLgF66q

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) November 4, 2017

On the second game of every back-to-back this season, Popovich has rested Manu Ginobili. When he does, it opens at least 15-20 minutes of playing time. Look for that to go to Forbes, who can use this to continue making a case for playing time, when the Spurs get healthy.

A strong two-game set could do plenty for Forbes, who continues to settle into the rotation. His performances may trend more toward personal gain, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be important against the Timberwolves and Mavericks.

Next: Kyle Anderson

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 17: Kyle Anderson #1 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots a free throw during the preseason game on October 13, 2017 at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 17: Kyle Anderson #1 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots a free throw during the preseason game on October 13, 2017 at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. Kyle Anderson

Kyle Anderson has been a revelation at the small forward spot, replacing the injured Kawhi Leonard. His stats don’t come anywhere close to the Spurs superstar, but they’re adequate and enough to be given some attention.

Through 13 games, Anderson has 8.3 points and 6.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting, so he’s playing an efficient style of basketball. That includes only shooting below 40 percent four times.

The UCLA’s product play over the past few games was amongst the best on the Spurs. He had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in a losing effort to the Milwaukee Bucks, while delivering 13 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds against the Chicago Bulls.

Why will he be so important on this two-game road trip? It’s possible his matchup assignment are Harrison Barnes of Dallas and Andrew Wiggins of Minnesota. They are averaging 19 and 20 points, respectively, and can take over games with outside shooting and sharp moves to the basket.

In the Season Opener, Wiggins put up 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting against the Spurs, with Anderson as his primary defender. That was while Danny Green shut down Jimmy Butler for most of the game. Will the tables be turned when this matchup happens again?

Next: Dejounte Murray

CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 21: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles the ball in the third quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on October 21, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 21: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles the ball in the third quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on October 21, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

1. Dejounte Murray

Dejounte Murray has been a hot-or-cold player for the San Antonio Spurs this season. When he’s on, the team performs well, as they’re 5-1, when the 21-year-old scores in double-digit points. That includes a 17 point performance against the Chicago Bulls.

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The cold spells have been noticeable, however. After a red-hot three-game start to the season, Murray’s production dipped, and by the eighth game, he lost the starting point guard job to Patty Mills.

The Spurs will need Murray to step up in both road games, continuing his recent trend in the right direction, in his bench role. That will mean defending rising rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. of the Mavericks, along with using his length against a long Timberwolves backcourt.

Defending hasn’t been the issue for the Washington product. The questions surround his offensive play, something that will be needed more against the dangerous Timberwolves, who deploy multiple elite scorers from the field. Will Murray be able to find looks around the basket? What about pulling up from the 3-point line, just like he did, twice, versus Chicago?

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Strong games from Murray would do wonders for the Spurs on this road trip. Will he rise to the occasion, as one of the first players off the bench?

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