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.
An 11-year NBA veteran, Detroit's Lindsey Hunter gave fans all the scoop from the Motor City.
Hunter answered more of your NBA Finals questions on Monday, June 14:
Q: How does it feels to be ahead in the series finals(3-1)? Do you think that Pistons we'll get this championship in game 5?
-- Xtian (San Pablo City, Philippines)
Hunter: We have to stay focused and keep our heads level, because one win (on their part) and it's a different series. We have to come out with intensity ... There's no pressure on us, because we weren't supposed to be here. And then when we got here, we weren't supposed to win a game. We won't let up. We can't afford to. We've never won a championship (as a team).
Q: Good job on Sunday's game...how do you think the Lakers are going to play on Tuesday knowing that they are down 1-3?
-- Bethany (Juneau, Ark.)
Hunter: It's going to be hard to close it out. They won't quit, and they've been in adverse situations so many times, and this is another challenge for them. We have to close the door on them and let them know that we're not celebrating. It's not over. If they win a game, then it's back in L.A. and lord knows what will happen if that happens. That team's not going to quit.
Q: Hey Lindsey, how do you feel to be back at Detroit and with all these fellow Detroit athletes and Celebrities in the crowd?
-- Chris (Clinton Township, Mich.)
Hunter: We don't want to leave here. It would be great to win it here. The place has been so electric, and that's what we envisioned. And now having an opportunity to do it, we've got to come out focused and get it done. That's our goal. (It would be special to win it here with this team) because I've been here for 10 years and this is my home. I was drafted here.
Q: What’s it like guarding an All-Star like Kobe Bryant?
-- George (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Hunter: Well, Kobe is definitely a tough matchup. Kobe is a special, unique individual. He's so talented. I've played with him and I've seen how his confidence never wavers, regardless of the situation. The kid always feels that he can come through. When you've got a guy like that, that's dangerous. You can't stop him from scoring, but you've just got to make him beat you from over the top. … When you're guarding a guy like that, who can score so many ways, the best thing to do is try to not let him catch the ball. You know how hard that is, but when he does catch it, I really try to get into him and not let him just have his way. He's going to score, he's such a great scorer, but you've got to challenge him.
Hunter answered your NBA Finals questions on Saturday, June 5:
Q: What does it feel like to be playing for the championship against the team you won a championship with just a few years ago?
-- Nazanin (Calabasas, Calif.)
Hunter: It feels good. I think the biggest thing about it is this is the biggest stage. The Lakers, I think in everybody’s mind was the best team this year and what better way for us to win it than to play against the best. I mean, that’s the only way we would have it.
Q: Who will be the hottest matchup between lakers and pistons this coming nba finals?
-- Bruce (Bacolod, Philippines)
Hunter: There’ll be a lot of hot matchups, I think. I think the Kobe/Rip matchup will be key, the Shaq/Ben matchup, the Rasheed/Shaq matchup… all these matchups will be key. I don’t think there’s just one matchup that will be key; there’ll be a lot of them.
Q: Hey, Lindsey. First of all, congratulations on making it back to the finals. I will be cheering for you guys. Secondly, I would like to know who you hang out with the most on the team. Also, do any of the players on the Pistons hang out during the off-season, or just during the season? Thanks and good luck!
-- Ty (Mattawan, Mich.)
Hunter: I hang out with a lot of my teammates. I hang out with Tayshaun, Darvin… I hang out with Rip, Chauncey, Ben… so, pretty much everybody… Elden. Some of us are first time teammates, so probably after this year we will.
Q: Hey Lindsey, how do you see your chances against the Lakers in the NBA Finals? What will your role be and what do you think are the keys to shutting down Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone? Thanks in advance!
-- Matt (Sandy Hook, Conn.)
Hunter: First of all, you can’t shut them down, we just have to try to slow them down. And I don’t know what my role will be right now, but whatever it will be, I’m sure I’ll be up for the task… I love our chances.
Q: Hey Lindsey, how do you and the Pistons handle all the criticism about matching up with the Lakers? Everyone is saying that you guys can't even get it done and that you could possibly get swept? Does that motivate you and make you want to prove the world wrong?
-- John (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Hunter: Well, first of all, we’re not really paying attention to what other people say about we don’t have a chance because we weren’t picked to be in The Finals, so we knew they weren’t going to pick us to win it. We’re not trying to prove that everybody’s wrong by trying to win it. We want to win it because we think we deserve to win it, and that’s the reason why we’re here. We think we deserve to be here, so we feel like our team is probably not as star-studded as their team, but we feel like we have a chance to win it too.
Hunter answered your third round of questions on Thursday, May 27:
Q: Hey Lindsey... In regard to the current series vs. Indiana, what is it like
guarding a guy like Reggie Miller? What is the best solution for guarding
someone who works so well off the screen? (You and Mike James are the
Pitbulls... keep up the great work!)
-- Stevie (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Hunter: Well, you just have to try to stay attached to him and try to be as physical as possible, and not let him have free reign and free runs across the court. A guy like that is so deadly. You can't give him any space or he can beat you.
Q: How does it feel to be a Piston after having been to the playoffs with the
Lakers? What's different, in terms of plays, spirit or morale, etc.?
-- Alexander (San Marino, Calif.)
Hunter: Well, I think the difference is it's a totally different group of guys. I have experience winning a championship, so I kind of know the feeling and know what it's about and that's what I try to instill in all of our guys. I think everyone here is motivated to win a championship, and I think that's the difference. When you're motivated just to go to the playoffs, that's what you end up doing. When you motivate yourself in a different mind-set, then you can push yourself further.
Q: Lindsey, How safe do you feel taking more chances on Defense when you know
the Wallaces and Tayshaun are behind you to help with the D?
-- R.J. (Stow, Ohio)
Hunter: It makes it a lot easier when you have three shot blockers behind you. You can really gamble and put pressure on the offense.
Q: The Pacers and Pistons both have dominating big men, who do you think has
the advantage in this series?
-- C. (Romeo, Mich.)
Hunter: Well, of course I think we have the advantage. With both the Wallaces down low, I think we definitely do and we can come off the bench with a trio of big guys like Elden Campbell, Corliss Williamson, and Mehmet Okur. We are really deep with our big men and they can all function in different capacities. We've got seven-footers that can shoot threes and that's a really unique thing.
Q: Lindsey, which team do you think you guys would be better suited to play,
if you made the finals? and why?
-- Steve (Detroit, Mich.)
Hunter: I don't think it matters because they both bring a lot of different problems; with Kevin Garnett being the most valuable player and then with Shaq being the most dominate player. It really doesn't matter; you've got your hands full with either one.
Q: Hey Hunter! I want to your insight on the Pistons vs. Pacers match-up...
Since the Pacers have the Pistons' old head coach, is there any advantage
to 'knowing your enemy'?
-- Don (Shanghai, China)
Hunter: I think there is always a little advantage to being familiar with the people that you've coached. What I think it really comes down to is which team is better and which team does what better; and that's what the series will come down to.
Q: If you weren't playing in the NBA, what else would you be doing?
-- Erik (Wixom, Mich.)
Hunter: I would probably be teaching high school social studies and coaching. I majored in elementary education.
Q: You bring some much energy when you're on the court. How do you and your
teammates' days off differ during the playoffs compared to the regular
season? What type of activities/practice?
-- Joe (Monterey, Calif.)
Hunter: Well, I think during this time of the year you really take advantage of your resting periods. You try not to be on your feet a lot and you try to take your leisure time seriously. And during the season it is a little bit different; you're out doing things and you're kind of in the hustle and bustle. During the playoffs, this is the time when you really try to focus and concentrate.
Hunter answered your second round of questions on Thursday, May 6:
Q: Do you think that the Pistons and the Nets are more hungry for a championship than a team that has already won in recent years?
-- Jessica (Lititz, Pa.)
Hunter: I know we are. I'm sure they are; they've been to the Finals twice without winning, so I'm sure they are very hungry. We are definitely hungry.
Q: Hi Lindsey, I'm a long time Pistons fan & I haven't been this excited about a Pistons team since the bad boys! What similarities do you see between this Piston team & the bad boys?
-- David (Reedley, Calif.)
Hunter: I think there are some similarities, but we're different also. We win with our defense the same way they did. They kind of changed the game, the way the game is played by the way they screened out of bounds and the way they did all of that physical stuff.
Q: First off good job against the Bucks. And good luck against the Nets. First question, what will you have to do against the Nets to beat them? Who will you have to defend the toughest?
-- D.J. (Saline, Mich.)
Hunter: I think the biggest thing for us is to stop their easy baskets. We can't let Jason Kidd get into a situation were he's running free, up and down the court and creating turmoil for us. That's the key to their game.
Q: Hey Lindsey, You guys seem to be really rolling right now. What will you do to keep up the intensity?
-- (Sacramento, Calif.)
Hunter: I don't think we really need to do anything. Being in the Playoffs and having a chance to win really makes everybody pick their game and their intensity up.
Q: What are your keys to stopping Jason Kidd?
-- Adeel (Troy, Mich.)
Hunter: The key is to keep a body in front of him at all times and never let him think he's by himself. We also can't give him passing lanes because he's so dangerous doing that.
Q: Hey Lindsey, you guys pounded the nets in game one, how are you feeling
about the rest of the series? Do you think that the high-octane nets have a chance? Thanks Lindsey, keep it up!
-- (Royal Oak, Mich.)
Hunter: Everybody has a chance, but I like our chances better.
Q: Hey Lindsey, You are 1 of my favorite players. I remember the first game I ever went to you had 32 points! I was only 6. You were on the Lakers, and won a title with them, how does that help you today with the Pistons?
-- Mitch (St. Louis, Mo.)
Hunter: While in that situation, I saw how hard those guys played and how hard we had to struggle to get there. For me it's kind of helpful to let these guys understand what it takes to actually win a championship and how to get there.
Hunter answered your first round of questions on Tuesday, April 20:
Q: I believe the Detroit guards have the advantage over Milwaukee in this
series, with Billups, Hamilton, James and yourself. What is your strategy to stop Michael Redd and Damon Jones in this series?
Hunter: He [Michael Redd] is such a talented scorer. You don’t have to do much to get that guy shots…as a team we just have to try to maintain our focus on him and contest shots and make sure we don’t give him any easy baskets and let him get going because once a guy like that gets going you can’t stop him.
Q: Rasheed never seems to stop talking. What exactly is he saying out there on the court?
--Scott (South Elgin, Ill.)
Hunter: Everything. He talks about picks; he talks about helping; he talks about every possible thing that could happen on the court. It’s great for us because it keeps us aware of what’s going on.
Q: I've followed your career since you were drafted by the Pistons. What
similarities are there between this year's Pistons and the Lakers team you won a championship with in L.A. a couple years ago? I think the Pistons are the only team in the East that can not only compete with the West but beat them in a seven-game series. GO PISTONS!
--Adam (West Bloomfield, Mich.)
Hunter: I think the confidence in the fact that we can beat anybody on any given night. We’re not intimidated by who we play. We feel like if we play the right way we can play with anybody.
Q: Hi, Mr. Hunter. How do you move your hands so quickly to steal the ball? And what was it like playing with Pistons legends Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars?
--Me-Rae (Macomb, Mich.)
Hunter: I’ve watched those guys so much and learned so much from them and I’m still learning from Joe today, you know, I talk a lot to him and try to keep constantly in contact with him and find out what things we can do and how we have to play. Those things taught me a lot. Watching them defend in the finals. Watching Joe guard Michael and the battles that they went through. Watching them use their hands and how physical they were, those things taught me a lot.
Q: It's great to see the Pistons with such a fantastic opportunity to go all the way! Do you think Rasheed is the missing link to a title? Will his passion for the game help lead the way to a ring?
Hunter: Oh, I definitely think so. I think he was the final piece of the puzzle and hopefully this puzzle turns out the right way.
Q: Detroit and San Antonio both allowed 6,909 points this season. Who do you think holds the team defensive title?
Hunter: Of course I think we are, but they’re great too. We’re similar in a lot of ways. It’s a toss up. It just depends on if you like the East or the West… and I like the East.
Q: Hi Lindsey, do you have any pregame rituals?
--Penny (Flat Rock, Mich.)
Hunter: Not really. I just like to get at least 45 minutes of sleep but I like to lay down for about two and a half hours.
Q: What kind of aerobic exercises do you do to get your "wind" up at such a high level? You never stop moving on the court -- you're always right on the ball handler, and that takes a ton of energy to do. Do you run a lot? Please fill me in, I would love to have the endurance that you do.
--Adam (Novi, Mich.)
Hunter: In the summer I run a lot. I do a lot of boxing. I love boxing. Those are the things I love to do besides basketball that keep me energized.
Q: Hi Lindsey, this is one of two questions I submitted to you, I sure hope I get a response! The question is ... assuming the Pistons make it out of the East (something I'm very confident of), which of the Western Conference Powers (Minnesota, the Lakers, Sac-town, the Spurs, or maybe the Mavs) do you feel you guys match up against the best, and who would you prefer to play, and why? Thanks man.
--Micalchi (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Hunter: Any of those teams: San Antonio, the defending champs. The Lakers, Minnesota, you could just keep going. Any of those guys would be a handful. We’re just trying to focus on taking care of what we need to do right now and that’s what we want to do.