San Antonio Spurs News

Ranking the 3 Most Important Spurs for a Huge Play-In Win

Jose Alvarado, Dejounte Murray
Jose Alvarado, Dejounte Murray / Sean Gardner/GettyImages
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San Antonio Spurs
Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

1. Jakob Poeltl

Postseason basketball is all about matchups, especially in a winner-moves-on scenario. You never know who's going to step up and have a big game and who might struggle. However, I've seen enough to be convinced that Jonas Valanciunas absolutely loves playing the San Antonio Spurs.

With the Memphis Grizzlies last season, he put up a monster 23 points and 23 rebounds to send the Spurs packing in the NBA Play-In Tournament. That included five offensive rebounds and a game-high 10 made field goals. This season, he's averaged 17 points and 12 boards in four games against the Spurs, which are both around his normal averages.

Jakob Poeltl is going to have the unenviable task of keeping Jonas off the glass while also stopping his offensive game -- all while avoiding foul trouble. Poeltl is more likely to get into foul trouble against stretch bigs like Valanciunas or Karl-Anthony Towns, and if that happens in this game, the Spurs might be in big trouble. He absolutely must be careful if he picks up an early foul.

On the other end of the floor, Poeltl can keep possessions alive with the best of them as well, and the Spurs will value any extra possession they can get. The longer they can have Jakob as the defensive anchor on the floor to steer away drives and bring down boards, the better chance the Silver and Black can come out on top.

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The right to advance for one shot at the playoffs is anyone's for the taking, and it should be a fun one Wednesday night.

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