Comparing the Grizzlies and Pacers: Q&A with Stephen Ajamie


Jan 21, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) drives against Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) at the FedEx Forum. Indiana defeated Memphis 82-81. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing as the Pacers share the blue collar mentality of the Grizzlies, we felt it would only be appropriate to shoot a couple questions surrounding the future of both franchises to FanSided’s own Stephen Ajamie, editor of Always Miller Time.


It’s no secret that Indiana and Memphis share a physical brand of basketball and live by their defensive identities. But with the Grizzlies’ humiliating sweep at the hands of the Spurs and the Pacers on the brink of elimination, is defense still king in the NBA?

I do believe that you need a solid defense to win the championship. Just look at this Miami Heat team, and what they can do.  Most of the time, in their games, they lock down on defense, and use that to spur their offense.  The San Antonio Spurs are always a top defensive team.  So while it’s not a glamorous thing, the defense of a team can help put them into title contention.

Much like the Grizzlies struggled to contain Tony Parker, the Pacers have been hard-pressed to slow down Lebron James. What adjustments do you feel need to take place to slow down superstars when they’re at the top of their game?

Guarding Lebron James is such a task anyways. In game five, he was even making contested three pointers, so honestly, who knows what adjustments you could make to slow him down.  The Pacers have mostly been going at him one on one, so maybe a double team would be something to do.  I like the idea of making him shot those jump shots because you know that’s not the strongest area of his game. But if he’s making those, then you just have to continue to lock in your defense on him, and hope he misses some.

David West and Roy Hibbert draw an interesting parallel to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Do you feel team’s can still win titles when they are dependent on two interior big men?

I think having those big men can help win a title.  I’ll go back to the Spurs once again, and say look at when they had David Robinson and Tim Duncan.  Talk about a tandem down there.  With West and Hibbert, you have the post area well defended and two great rebounders.  Even if those two aren’t grabbing the rebound, they can tip it out to someone that can make the rebound.  But West has a great way of demanding the ball, and getting a basket when the Pacers are struggling.  Hibbert cleans up so much down there, and his rebounding has really kept the Pacers alive in this series. So I love the idea of two big men, and the Pacers will have to look at keeping West around after this season as his contract is up this summer.

Do you, as a Pacers fan and someone who is witnessing the emergence of a dominant wing player in Paul George, feel the Grizzlies made a mistake in trading Rudy Gay?

I think losing Gay does hurt the Grizzlies.  He actually made Toronto look much better, and with some more team, I thought they could have made a run for that eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.  But Memphis was able to weather the storm without Gay, so it did seem to work out for both sides.

If you could conjure up the ideal trade between the Pacers and the Grizzlies, what would it be? If any.

For the Pacers, I’d look to trade Gerald Green for Tony Allen.  Allen is a great defender, which the Pacers love, and unfortunately, Green just never seemed to come around as a bench player.  I think having Allen as a solid bench player would be great for this Pacers team.

Lastly, Frank Vogel has been the subject of ridicule this postseason, much like Lionel Hollins, would you find it imperative that Vogel return to the sidelines moving forward? And just how much of the team’s success do you attribute to his coaching?

Frank Vogel deserves a ton of credit for this team’s success. You want to talk about someone who’s never said a bad thing publicly about this team, that’s Vogel. He’s a guy that’s always so positive, and the Pacers just love to play for him. He’s a guy that will be around for the foreseeable future as the Pacers did sign him to an extension, and I was so glad to see that.

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