You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in NBA Playoffs 2004? 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.
San Antonio's Bruce Bowen is one of the premier defenders in the NBA. Send Bruce a question via e-mail and we'll post his answers to the best questions at least once for each round of the Playoffs the Spurs reach.
Bowen answered your second round of questions on Tuesday, May 11:
Q: Hey Bruce, How does it feel to defend of the league's best scorer since you're known for your tough defense and shutting out great scorers?
-- Chuck (Laredo, Texas)
Bowen: Itís a competitive event for me because they are top scorers. It makes me want to go out and play that much more harder because if they can see me do that, maybe they can give me a little credit for what I do.
Q: Which team is the hardest team to beat -- Lakers or Kings?
-- Pann (Bakersfield, Calif.)
Bowen: I think both teams have a different style. You canít say that oneís harder than the other because theyíre so different. The Sacramento Kings are a team that involves a lot of people in their offense and with the L.A. Lakers you know about the big two (Shaq and Kobe), so I think itís just a difference.
Q: Bruce, do you think it's likely you'll have to face another round of "foul Bowen" ala Dallas last year, and if so how would you and the team deal with it?
-- David (Austin, Texas)
Bowen: I think the only one way to deal with it is deal with it. I think what actually happened with that is Don Nelson helped me shoot them better because I knew that I was going to get to the line. If teams do it, thatís what Iíll have to do.
Q: Hey Bruce, do you think that some of the players that haven't been getting very much minutes in the previous matchup with Memphis will get more playing time with the Lakers matchup such as Kevin, Charlie, and Malik?
-- Derrick (Marion, Texas)
Bowen: I donít know. Thatís a decision for the coaches and only them. I just work here!
Q: Hello Bruce, Great year, great season and so far great playoffs, Keep up the great work. My question is what do you think will be the key point in winning the second round? Is it our bench players or the Lakers bench not being able to score that will make to difference?
-- John (San Antonio, Texas)
Bowen: I donít think itís necessarily bench play, but I think itís important they we do what weíre capable of doing and thatís defense first and pushing the ball in transition.
Q: The Western Conference has turned out to be *the conference* because the high level that teams show. If you make the finals, will you be more exhausted than the Eastern team you face?
-- Jay (Buenos Aires)
Bowen: I donít think that has anything to do with it. I think guys just want to play for the championship, period.
Q: Hi Bruce, I want to know if you're still in college and if so how do you find time to do both? I believe we will win the whole thing again this year and next year too! 3-Peat!!!
-- Lisa Marie (Houston, Texas)
After practice you have quite a bit of time to just do whatever. So I try to use that time constructively and get íinto the booksí so to speak.
Bowen answered your first round of questions on Thursday, April 22:
Bruce Bowen is answering fan questions throughout the playoffs.
You've been known for your defense, but is that your favorite part of basketball?
-- Leung (Hong Kong)
Bowen: I think everybodyís favorite part of basketball is to score, but that (defense) is my role here. I understand my role and I relish in it. I believe that if there is something you are supposed to do, you should do it at 110%. Thatís why I give a lot of effort on defense, but I also give a lot of effort on offense as well.
Q: Hi Bruce. I am a big fan of you and especially Tony Parker. What do you think it is going to take for you guys to repeat?
-- Claudia (Austin, Texas)
Bowen: Itíll be difficult, but it is a goal that we can obtain. Itíll take a mental focus more than anything else. Just the mental aspect of the game because weíre young and some guys havenít been there before in the playoffs and it will take the mental process of paying attention and understanding what situations weíre in for us to get a victory like that in each round.
Q: Bruce, Another incredible season for the Spurs! Considering your performance last year in the playoffs and the seven 3-pointers you sank, are you going to shoot more in the playoffs this year?
-- Chris (Austin, Texas)
Bowen: Well, I want to improve on just being more consistent in the playoffs. If I have improved I think thatís the best thing for me. I think in any situation where you are going through something again you want to work out the kinks that you had the previous time, and thatís what Iím trying to do. Just trying to improve on all aspects of the game right now.
Q: Are you concerned about making it through the first round vs. the Grizzlies since the season series was 3-1 Grizzlies? Good Luck!!
-- Dane (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Bowen: Yes. That warrants big-time concern. You canít ever fall asleep against teams like that and say ďOh weíll turn it on and turn it off.Ē I think itís important that you respect each team that you play no matter what the record was. You still have to go out and play hard and play well and I think thatís been our main focus and concern right now is that we want to go out and play well and play hard.
Q: I think you are the best defensive player in the league. Which team would you rather face in the Finals -- Pistons or Pacers?
-- Slim (Orlando, Fla.)
Bowen: If we make it to the Finals I donít care who we play. Itís just the fact of getting to the Finals. Thatís the biggest thing for me.
Q: Which is more important to you to do in the playoffs, have a great defensive game or a great offensive game?
-- Robert (Miami, Fla.)
Bowen: Offense wins games, but defense wins championships and thatís our goal here.
Q: Do you feel that other teams are actually playing you differently not necessarily on offense, but on defense? In other words, have you seen more and more picks set on you than last year and other such defensive tactics?
-- Ray (Los Angeles)
Bowen: No, I donít think thereís necessarily a way they prepare for me defensively. I think they do what they do and thatís that.