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.
Mark Madsen brings two rings' worth of experience to Minnesota's playoff push. Send Mark 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 Timberwolves reach.
Madsen answered your second round of questions on Monday, May 10:
Q: Hi Mark! I love the passion you have for the game. The Timberwolves have a few future Hall of Famers on the team. Of all your teammates, who do you think is most likely to become an NBA head coach and why?
-- Christine (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Madsen: I think there are a lot of players in this locker room that could become an NBA head coach. The one person who has vocalized it to me is Sam Cassell. I think Sam would make an excellent head coach because he understands the game. He understands every aspect and every nuance of the game, and he loves the game. But I think Spree has also mentioned that he may have an interest. I think that there are other guys in that locker room that will develop interest as time passes.
Q: What is your strategy to defending big men that you may face in the playoffs such as Duncan, Malone, or Webber?
-- Johny (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Madsen: What I try to do is, I try to get low. I try to get low and push them off their sweet spot. I want to make them work for everything they get.
Q: How did u get the name mad dog?
-- Mike (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
Madsen: My P.E. teacher in the fifth grade gave it to me and it just kind of stuck with me ever since. My friends growing up always called me by my nickname and somehow it carried over into college.
Q: The Timberwolves were the only team to win two games against Sacramento at Arco this season. What was the key to your success?
-- Rod (Denver, Colo.)
Madsen: I feel that KG had huge games in both of those games in Sacramento. And then there were also a lot of contributions from other men on the team. When we have everyone on our team playing at a high level, we are very difficult to beat.
Q: You bring so much intensity and enthusiasm to every game, whether you're on the court or on the bench. How do you maintain that intensity day in and day out? Keep up the hard work.
-- Matt (Jamestown, N.D.)
Madsen: Thanks for the compliment -- I appreciate it. I try to get my sleep, I try to eat right, but it's very easy on this team because everyone is so close. All the guys are close, guys are laughing, guys are joking when it's time to laugh and joke. When it's time to get serious, guys get serious. When you're around so many professionals with such high character, it's easy to get focused.
Q: What's been the biggest adjustment for you when you joined a new team this season? How are the dynamics of this team different than the Lakers? Do you feel that the T-Wolves have the same type of focus and intensity as the Lakers did to win it all?
-- Andrew (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Madsen: I definitely think we have the focus and intensity to potentially win a championship. We have got to perform during the playoffs, but absolutely I think we have the potential to win a championship.
Q: Mad Dog, first, your playing has been awesome this year, I've enjoyed it tremendously. Who would you like to see in the next round, L.A. or San Antonio? Would it feel nice to defeat the Lakers? Do you feel the Wolves match up against either of these teams better?
-- Dustin (Glyndon, Minn.)
Madsen: I feel like we can match up against both teams pretty well. Right now San Antonio has the momentum, but in L.A. with Shaq and Kobe you never know what could happen. Both those players can take control of games and Karl and Gary are both great players. We are all watching that series very closely.
Q: What do the Wolves need to do to beat the Kings in the series?
-- Kaiwan (Hendersonville, Tenn.)
Madsen: Defend and rebound. Sacramento runs an offense that is very conducive to them getting backdoor cuts, to them getting layups. We have got to find a way to take away their layups and punish them on the offensive boards. If we can do that, I think that we'll be able to pose some problems for them.
Madsen answered your first round of questions on Tuesday, April 20:
Q: As a longtime Timberwolves fan, I am so happy for the Wolves this year and their great success in the Western Conference. How do you think this playoff experience will be different from your playoff experiences with the L.A. Lakers? Best of luck!!
--- Jennifer (Plymouth, Minn.)
Madsen: When I was with L.A., we were expected to win a championship. I came in after they had won their first championship after a long drought, so because of the tradition of the Lakers, we were expected to win. Here, the expectations are the same. The only difference is that we haven't won a championship yet so if we do get that far and win one, it will make it that much better.
Q: With the late additions of Wally and Mike, do feel the team has adjusted and is as ready as it can be for the playoffs?
-- Lance (Stevens Point, Wis.)
Madsen: Having them back at full strength has been a big advantage for us. It gives us more options. Any time a player is coming back from an injury, there are going to be adjustments and Mike and Wally are no different. Now they are playing at a high level. When Mike is in the game he allows us to take more chances on defense because we know that he will always be at the rim. Wally keeps defenses totally honest because they know how good of a shooter he is.
Q: Do you feel the T'Wolves have an advantage over Denver by playing a 7-game series instead of a 5-game series in the first round?
-- Nate (Alexandria, Minn.)
Madsen: Denver came in and gave us a very good game the other night. It is obvious that they are a hungry team, a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in a while and wants to show that they belong. We just happened to play better. Sam and KG had phenomenal games and Spree and Wally also played well.
Q: To what extent does KG's intensity level shape a game's outcome? Do you feel there is more pressure on the Timberwolves since they have yet to pass the first round of the playoffs, and what kind of effects will this pressure have on you and the team?
-- Tom (Mankato, Minn.)
Madsen: KG is so intense. He is a player that is always going to give you 100% and always be focused. I have never seen him not be prepared and focused for a game. When you have leaders like KG, everyone else falls into line and does their job. We don't really feel any pressure. We look at it as an opportunity to do something special and bring a championship to Minnesota.
Q: How much fun is it to be a part of this year's TWolves squad? KG has commented this is the most fun he's ever had in a season. Any pranks you've pulled on each other?
-- Mike (Sioux Falls, S.D.)
Madsen: This team is very close. We enjoy one another. There is a lot of joking around but when it is time to get serious, we get serious. There are no factions on this team, no small groups; everybody get along.
Q: A. Miller and V. Lenard will bring a lot of offense to the game. And M. Camby will bring energy. What have you all planned to do to counter that or at least slow them down?
-- Marcus (Jackson, Miss.)
Madsen: The key to defending energy players like Camby, Nene and "The Bird Man" (Chris Anderson) is to always be between your man and the basket. It seems simple but when picks and pick-and-rolls are involved, it get a little difficult.
Q: If the Timberwolves win it all, will you be doing your famous celebration dance again?
-- Joey (Blairstown, N.J.)
Madsen: I don't know about the dance. What I need is to get a few pointers from KG and then maybe I will give it a try. If we do win a championship and the people want to see me dance, I might have to break something out.