The Memphis Grizzlies are riding high on a 7-game winning streak, after beating the San Antonio Spurs by 31 points last night. A win tonight would tie the franchise’s longest winning streak at 8 games.
However, this is no easy challenge. The Indiana Pacers are still in the mix in the Eastern Conference right now — behind the All-Star play of Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, and the “Defensive Player of the Year” level rim protection from Myles Turner.
Nonetheless, it should still be fun! I chatted with Mark Schindler of Indy Cornrows to talk about tonight’s game.
1) What’s been the biggest stylistic change with the new coaching hire?
The biggest stylistic change hs been the defensive pressure. The Pacers used to focus on putting everyone on an island, playing man up, and funneling drivers to the rim. Now, they pressure ballhandlers and trap quite a bit while throwing out a variety of looks and playing a frenetic brand of defense much like the Toronto Raptors (Nate Bjorkgren’s former team).
2) Domantas Sabonis is probably an All-Star lock. Do you think Malcolm Brogdon needs to be held in the same regard?
Domantas has been awesome this season. However, if I was giving my vote today and could only pick one player, I’d vote Malcolm as the team’s All-Star. he guards the best perimeter player every game while being the lead initiator for the Pacers himself and playing 35+ minutes per game. His off the dribble shotmaking has been ridiculous this year. I lean on giving Brogdon my vote.
3) What is the upside of this team once Caris LeVert is back?
I actually did a pod about this recently with Andrew Kelly of Peachtree Hoops. Based on the fact that the majority of the core already has long term deals in place and are just entering their primes, you can see the makings of a team that will be competitive and consistent for quite some time. I think the healthy and idealized version of this team could make a conference finals and will be gunning for a top 3/4 finish yearly.
4) Aside from Jaren and Ja, which Grizzlies prospect intrigues you the most?
Xavier. Tillman. Sr. He was my favorite propect in the draft. Awesome guy, awesome player, I just love what he brings as a guy with high basketball IQ. De’Anthony Melton is a really positive and fun player and I’m interested to see him continue to grow. I lve everything about Brandon Clarke EXCEPT that he changed up his jumper. Why did he do that? I’m not happy and neither should he be.
5) Which matchup are you looking forward to the most in this one?
I’m most interested to see Ja versus Myles Turner. They’re not going to guard each other of course so it’s not neccesarily a match up, but they’ll meet around the rim more than a handful of times. Myles is the front runner for DPOY and Ja is one of the most electric athletes and crafty finishers in the league. I’m amped for some fireworks.
Thanks, Mark, for catching up with us before tonight’s game. Make sure you follow him on Twitter (@MSchindlerNBA) for the best Pacers and NBA content. Follow Indy Cornrows on Twitter as well (@IndyCornrows).
And tune into this game tonight at 7 PM CST!