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.
Undrafted out of college back in 1997, Milwaukee's Damon Jones has been a key part of the Bucks' success this season. Send Damon 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 Bucks reach.
Jones answered your first round of questions on Tuesday, April 20:
Damon Jones here answering questions from all you Bucks fans out there... Thank you so much for supporting us this season… We look forward to seeing you at the Bradley Center when we take on the Pistons, so be loud and be proud… You’re a BIG part of us and we need your continued support…
Lots of great questions from fans throughout Wisconsin, one from a fan in Katy, TX, near my hometown in Houston, and even a question from Robert in Germany. I hope we can do this again in the Playoffs, so keep your questions coming… Here are the answers to our first batch:
Q: After losing an opportunity of having home court advantage in the opening round, what is the mindset of your team? Do you feel confident as a team to go out and take care of business in the playoffs?
-- Brian (Mayville, Wis.)
Jones: We definitely feel confident. We know if we play together as a team, which means sharing the basketball and playing good team defense, that we are capable of beating any team in this league.
Q: What do you, personally, think your role will be in order to get past the first round?
-- Drew (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Jones: My role in the Playoffs is very similar to what it has been throughout the regular season: distribute the ball around in order to get my teammates good looks at the basket; be a good defender, especially against Chauncey Billups because he’s an intricate part of what they do offensively; and when shots are open for me, that I knock them down.
Q: Hey Damon great job this year....how do you think you guys match up in the first round against the Pistons? The whole year the 4 games that have been played have came down to like 6 points or less.
-- Aaron (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Jones: I think we match up very well with the Pistons. Our style of play for the most part has been to score a lot of points. During the regular season, we were the top scoring team in the East and in the top five in the NBA. Detroit is one of the top defensive teams in the league. You put those two scenarios together and you have some bumpin’ heads going on. We have some advantages, and they have some advantages. If we play as we’re capable of playing as a team, both offensively and defensively, we’ll be tough to beat.
Q: Damon, everyone acknowledges that your best asset against the Pistons is the ability to open the floor up and draw the tough Pistons defense out. As the point guard, what do you see as your team's biggest weapon to attack that defense?
-- Kevin (Chicago)
Jones: Our biggest weapon against Detroit’s defense is just moving the basketball around. They play very well defensively on the strong side, so we have to move the ball and try to take advantage of the weak side. To do that we need to use dribble penetration and kick the ball out to open shooters, like Michael Redd, Keith (Van Horn) and even Joe Smith and Mase (Desmond Mason).
Q: What is the best part of playing in the Playoffs? What is your favorite move on the court?
-- Robert (Munster, Germany)
Jones: Only a select group makes it to the Playoffs; only 16 teams out of 29 get there. That’s exciting to me to get to go out on a national stage every night and play the game I love in front of great fans, especially our great Bucks fans at the Bradley Center… My favorite move is the three-point shot if you want to call that a move. When the ball goes through the net, I get to put up the three-sign.
Q: People said at the beginning of the year that you guys wouldn't win 25 games. Now all of a sudden they are saying that you guys won't win a game in this series. I seem to think otherwise, and are you using what the critics are saying as motivation?
-- Ben (New Berlin, Wis.)
Jones: We understand, as players, that games are won on the basketball court and not in the media, not in the newspapers or no matter what the critics are saying. We’re confident in our collective ability to not just go out and win a game, but be competitive throughout the series. We hope to take this series down to the wire and hopefully pull it off. To us it doesn’t matter what the critics are saying.
Q: What does it take to be a successful NBA point guard? Do you find it more difficult to score against bigger defenders?
-- Jared (Katy, Texas)
Jones: To be a successful point guard you have to be able to distribute the basketball. You have to be able to read defenses and find any mismatches that may be out there, and things of that nature. You have to be a good leader out on the floor; be a take-charge kind of person. Be able to lead your team both when things are going well, and especially when things aren’t going so well.
Q: Who was the sleeper of the year for the team that surprised everyone and made a big impact on the season?
-- Jon (New Berlin, Wis.)
Jones: I don’t think there’s one particular person, but rather our team as a unit has been a surprise in the NBA. Given the way we’ve played and the position we’re in, especially where we were predicted to finish at the beginning of the year, most definitely our team has surprised a lot of folks. If I had to single out one guy, I’d probably say Michael Redd. He was an All-Star for the first time this year. He put up good numbers and helped the team win a lot of games.
Q: How badly do you miss T.J. Ford? Would you have a better chance at the Pistons if he was back?
-- Moe (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Jones: Not having T.J. with us on the court is like someone taking a family member away from you. We had such a great bond all year. He’s out because of injury, but he’s still with us on the sideline being a terrific teammate. It’s a tough situation, him not being able to play. It really is like losing a family member. I wish him a speedy recovery.
Jones: Do you think the Bucks can beat the Pistons in round one??
-- TJ (Combined Locks, Wis.)
Jones: Well…we certainly wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we could beat them. We’re very confident in our team, players and coaches, alike. We have to be on the same page for 48 minutes against a tough Detroit team. We have to play hard and play together. Our coaches and scouts have done a good job of preparing us, now it’s a matter of us executing and believing in one another. I like our chances if we do that.
That’s all the time we’ve got for this round of questions. Hopefully we can do another round of questions later on in our First Round against Detroit. Thanks for writing and GO BUCKS!