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Playoffs Mailbox: Corliss Williamson

You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in the NBA Playoffs 2003? 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.

Corliss Williamson received the NBA's Sixth Man Award for the 2001-02 season. His 2002-03 season was just as accomplished. Send Corliss an e-mail question and we'll get his answers to the best ones and post them during first round.

Williamson answered your second round of questions on Tuesday, May 13:

Q: Tell me, did you and your teammates know that Prince had that much game in his back pocket?
--TW (Detroit)

Williamson: Yes (laughs). We knew Prince could play. He's shown us all season long in practice and when he had the opportunity in games. It was just a matter of time before Coach (Carlisle) gave him the opportunity, and he's really risen to the moment.

Q: How does playing at home and playing away in the playoffs affect the team as a whole? It's obvious that you and the team play better at home, so what gives?
--Adam (Christmas, Mich.)

Williamson: I think every team plays well at home. You take a lot of pride in defending your home court. Not only our team, but teams that we play take a lot of pride when we come into their arena and try to make it difficult on us to win. These are tough times in the playoffs; everyone has elevated their game. We just have to find a way to play a little bit better on the road. We're very confident at home, but we still have to play better on the road.

Q: You guys face a big challenge in trying to stop, or at least slow down, Allen Iverson. How will you approach the remaining games in this series defensively to try and limit the Sixers' point total?
--Kris (Cambridge, Ill.)

Williamson: Maybe we can steal that protective elbow sleeve; that might help us out a lot (laughs). It's going to take a total team effort to try and slow Allen down. He's accustomed to being double-teamed and triple-teamed; he's one of the greater players in the league today. It's going to be hard to stop him and hold him under his average; but we can try to limit the other people on their team and hopefully that can give us an opportunity to win.

Q: Hey, Corliss. Does Joe Dumars hang out and give you and the team inspiration and advice from his "bad boys" days of back-to-back championships?
-- Eric (Fruitport, Mich.)

Williamson: He hangs out a little bit. For the most part he lays low and stays in the background. He jokes around every now and then. If he feels there's something that needs to be said, he'll speak up and say it. I think we're in a great position to have a guy like Joe who was part of two Championship teams and knows what it takes and is willing to give us his advice.

Q: Corliss, I understand that some of Coach Carlisle's moves in the Orlando series with your minutes based on what looked like matchup problems for you. In the Philly series, it appears those matchups favor you, yet you haven't played as many minutes as I thought you would. Is there anything I'm missing here that would explain this?
-- Blake (Southfield, Mich.)

Williamson: It's all about a feel for the game. Coach (Carlisle) feels comfortable with the lineup that we have right now. We won our first two games and unfortunately we weren't able to win two on the road. It's nothing to be upset about; I have to continue to work and be ready. Coach can change his mind at any time, just like he did in the Orlando series. We'll just see what happens. I do believe the matchup does favor me a little bit more to play in this series; but you have go with your coach and stick behind whatever he says.

Williamson answered your second round of questions on Saturday, May 3:

Q: What's up Big Nasty? Yo man, I was just wondering what do you think you guys will have to do to pull out of this first series victorious and, do you think that Wednesday's win got Orlando's young players and made them second guess their game-plan? Thanks Corliss and Good luck homeboy!
-- Randy (Muskegon, Mich.)

Williamson: We're doing a good job guarding Tracy McGrady and also limiting their other players from having big nights. If we stay aggressive on the floor defensively, as well as offensively, and have a physical presence out there, we feel we have a chance of winning.

Q: Where and why did you get the nickname "Big Nasty"?
-- Mark (Detroit)

Williamson: That nickname came from my cousin, Clarence Finley. He's called me that since I was like 13 years old. That's just the way he wanted me to play in the games, just to be big and nasty. People kind of picked up on the nickname and it has stuck with me from there on.

Q: You guys have done a great job in the playoffs thus far even though it has been hard to stop their offensive weapon...T-Mac. It seems that coach Carlisle has done a good job putting different guys on him. Being former sixth man of the year and having the two time defensive player of the year Ben Wallace, what is your game plan to stop the magic and try and get into the later rounds of the playoffs?
-- Adam (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)

Williamson: Stopping Tracy McGrady is not a job only one man can do. It takes a total team effort and we're going to have to continue to get together and play tough team defense in order to stop McGrady. As far as getting into the later rounds, we're going to have to continue to play Pistons basketball, which starts on the defensive end and then continues onto the offensive end. We have to play as a team.

Q: How Hey BIG NASTY! What do you think the chances are that we may see Ben's fro in Game 7 and may we see you grow your hair out in the future?
-- Eric (Muskegon, Mich.)

Williamson: Chances are great that he might bring out the Afro. Normally in big games or when we're playing against a team that has a pretty big center, he wears his big fro so he looks big and intimidating. Not that he has a problem with it anyway. You won't see me growing my hair out in the future. My wife told me that I can't have an Afro anymore.

Q: Corliss, man, what's up? You are facing a very tough game on Sunday. How do you plan to go at it?
-- Bresha (Flint, Mich.)

Williamson: We plan to go at it with everything we've got. This is it. It's going to a battle of wills. Either team wants to go home. Our crowd is going to be behind us, so expect us to come out and play with the same type of intensity you've seen from us the past two games. We want to continue to play so look forward to us being out there battling and continuing to fight.

Williamson answered your first round of questions on Tuesday, April 22:

Q: Hey, Big Nasty! First of all, I want to tell you that the Pistons are my favorite team, so good luck in the playoffs. Secondly, I have dreams of becoming a coach when I am older, so could you tell me what the possible Coach of the Year Rick Carlisle tells you guys and does with you guys to keep you motivated and in the best possible mental and physical shape?
-- Ty (Mattewan, Mich.)

Williamson: He just prepares us well for the games and talks about where we play best on this team as individuals to utilize our strengths to help this team win. Coach Carlisle has done a great job of preparing us for games offensively as well as defensively. It’s a luxury to have a coach that knows your strengths and is able to utilize everyone on the team to make sure that they can help the team win.

Q: According to some polls I've seen these days, people think Orlando is the lower seed most likely to win its Eastern first-round series. I think Detroit has a great team, but people don't seem to give you the credit you deserve. How do you deal with it in the playoffs?
-- Rodrigo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Williamson: Sometimes you have to go and take respect, you have to work harder as a team, we feel in our minds that we are a good team and we are capable of achieving a lot so just go out and work harder in the playoffs and the more games we win, the more respect we will earn.

Q: Please tell us more about the unique system and rotation Rick Carlisle is using for the team. Did this rotation help improve the team in general?
-- Borcheglot (Kiev, Ukraine)

Williamson: I believe the rotation that we have has really helped improve this team we have several guys who are capable of coming off the bench and helping provide an offensive spark as well as defensive spark. You know Coach Carlisle knows how to put certain guys on the floor who work well together and depending on the teams we are playing and the match ups that are out there he utilizes the bench as well as the anyone in the NBA.

Q: How are you going to stop T-Mac?
-- Kris (Tampa, Fla.)

Williamson: Ha Ha Ha…Wow!!… Break his leg. Naw I’m just playing. It's really hard to stop a great player like that. All you can do is try to contest his shots, make him take tough shots out there on the floor and hope that he has an off night. I really don’t think that you can stop a player like that. All you can do is try to contain him and not let him go for 40 points a game.

Q: Do you think the experience in the playoffs last year will give you a sense of what is going to happen and gives you a better idea?
-- Kelsey (Sandusky, Mich.)

Williamson: I believe so. We’ve been down in the playoffs before we know what to expect, so I think that the experience that we gained last year in the second round as well as the first round should help us.

Q: I have been a huge fan of yours since your freshman year at Arkansas. It is great to see you have success at the NBA level. Do you think you would be more productive as a starter or do you prefer to get a feel for the game and come in off the bench? Good luck!
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)

Williamson: I feel like I can be effective either way, but for this team its better for me to come off the bench when you need someone to come off and provide a spark offensively. I have accepted that role and I try to do what ever it takes to help this team win and hopefully one day I’ll be able to start but if not until then I’ll do what ever it takes.

Q: Being a smaller guy playing the post, how do you size up the competition and figure out what you're going to do each night?
-- Elvis (Imlay City, Mich.)

Williamson: That’s hard. Some nights it's tough. When you have a center guarding you, you just have to go out and get a feel for the game and feel how they are playing you defensively. Sometimes you have to bring your men out a little bit on the floor and try to get around them and use your quickness. Other nights, you're going to have a smaller guy who is not as strong and you try to overpower him. It just depends on what the matchup is.

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