You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in the NBA Playoffs 2003? NBA.com has infiltrated the action with the ultimate insiders -- the players themselves. We're giving you an exclusive look at the postseason with a roster of player mailboxes.
Paul Pierce is one of the NBA's brightest stars, making his second consecutive All-Star team this season.
Paul answered your second round of questions on Thursday, May 1:
Q: Paul, Who do you think in your team stepped up from the bench and played a vital role in your series against the Pacers?
-- Jason (Makati, Philippines)
Pierce: Even though Walter has started has a few games in this series, I still consider him one of our bench guys. He has been unbelievable. He has hit some big shots and does what he has always done for this year by making hustle plays and getting some key rebounds. JR (Bremer) and Mark Blount have also played some key minutes for us.
Q: Game 2 in Boston you had only 5 points at the half. Then came out in the second half like a man posessed and exploded for 32 points! What in the world went on in the locker room to get you locked into the zone like that? And what were you saying to Al Harrington when you popped that 3-pointer in his face?
-- Chris (Osan Air Force Base, South Korea)
Pierce: Nothing really in the locker room. I just let the game come to me in the first half and I was passive, trying to get other guys involved. I knew where my opportunities would be in the second half and I capitalized on them and got on a roll. Ron Artest is a good defender, but in the second half I told myself that I had to be more aggressive if we were going to win. I really don't remember to much what was being said between Harrington and I, I was just trying to keep an eye on the clock and get to the spot I wanted to get to where I could make the shot.
Q: Well Paul, Ron pretty much locked you down in Game 5. What is going to be your game plan to change things around in Game 6?
-- Marlon (Hyannis, Mass.)
Pierce: Nothing different. I am going to be aggressive and if my looks aren't there, I have the confidence in my team mates to make the open shots.
Q: The Pacers are a very deep team, which is a major reason why people have been saying they can win the East. Do you think your result means depth is overrated?
-- Dan (Edgecumbe, New Zealand)
Pierce: No. I think our bench has been great. Walter (McCarty) has been huge off the bench and when he starts Eric Williams comes the bench and gives us a lift. JR (Bremer) is a rookie and he has played well and Mark Blount comes in gives us a physical presence inside. Must coaches keep their rotations around eight guys in the playoffs so I think the first few guys off the bench are key to any team.
Q: My question is, what goes through your mind when you hit big threes or shots in the fourth quarter? Do you plan out your shots or do you just give what the defense offers you?
-- Antonio (Deep River, Ontario)
Pierce: I don't think about it. I just try to concentrate on making the open shot and if it is not there try to get to the hole or find one of my teammates. There is no plan to it. I just try to get in a good rhythm.
Paul answered your first round of questions on Monday, April 28:
Q: Do you think that by coming from behind in the fourth quarter of Game 1 gave you and your team confindence to know that you are never
out of a game?
-- Andrew (Danvers, Mass)
Pierce: Definitely. We wanted to steal one in Indiana, we actually wanted to
win both, but it was important to get home court advantage because are
so great in Boston.
Q: Unbelievable game. Is 21-21 from the free throw line a personal best? If
it isn't what is the most free throws you've ever made in a row/game?
-- Mark (Rochester, N.Y.)
Pierce: Definitely as a pro. I've really worked on my free throw shooting this
year. At the beginning of the season I wasn't shooting a high
percentage, but I was getting to the line a lot and thought it was
important to make them. In fact, I broke Cedric Maxwell's team record
this year of free throws made in a season.
Q: Paul, what's going to be the biggest factor in making far in the East?
-- Kyle (Cocoa, Fla.)
Pierce: I think our defense. We can score. Antoine is a great scorer, Tony
Delk and JR (Bremer) can score. But last year we made to the East
Finals on or defense. We work very hard on our defense and if we are
playing our best team defense we will be difficult to beat.
Q: My question is, do you prepare yourself differently when you are going
to be matched up with a player like Ron Artest, one of the most physical
defenders in the league? Go CELTICS.
-- Johnny (Cranston, R.I.)
Pierce: He is very good defender. Early on I have been trying to get my
teammates involved and find the open man. Late in the games, my shot
has been falling and I have been able to get to the line. Really, I
just try to take what the defense gives me regardless of who is on me.