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.
The Lakers' Luke Walton answered more of your NBA Finals questions on Friday, June 11:
Q: Luke, how does it feel to be down 2-1? Does that change your mindset?
-- Kent (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Walton: It just makes this next game that much more important for us. Last game was a huge game and we didnít show up. So, this next game, we just put that much more pressure on ourselves being down 2-1 because itís almost impossible to win if you go down 3-1. So weíre going to need this one on Sunday.
Q: How difficult is it being in Detroit for a week playing games 3-5?
-- Kristine (Victorville, Calif.)
Walton: I donít think itís very difficult. Weíre here as professionals trying to win the NBA championship. Just because we have to be out of town for a week, that shouldnít mentally drain anybody.
Q: What do you feel are the keys to finding an answer to Detroitís defense?
-- Bigo (Cherry Point, N.C.)
Walton: Sticking with our offense, executing our offense and having patience with it.
Q: Hey Luke you played superb basketball in game 2. What is it that motivated you and gave you the confidence to do it?
-- Ranjit (Coimbatore, India)
Walton: I have the confidence in my game. And the motivation, itís The NBA Finals, you canít get any more motivated than that, so hopefully Iíll be able to repeat some of the stuff I did in Game 2 in Game 4.
Walton answered your NBA Finals questions on Monday, June 7:
Q: What do you think the matchup between the pistons and the lakers is gonna be like?
-- Joseph (Waterford, Mich.)
Walton: I think every gameís going to be a war. The Pistons play so dang hard and aggressive and they execute so well on offense that every single game is going to be battles and is going to come down to the end.
Q: How do you stay focused playing 82 games throughout the regular season and then the playoffs?
-- James (Concord, N.C.)
Walton: Itís our careers. Itís what weíve all been doing forever, so I think just everyone, on this team at least, has such a competitiveness that when weíre out there playing us against someone else itís not that hard to stay focused because you want to win so bad.
Q: Would like to hear your insights on the coaching similarities/differences between Lute and Phil.
-- Brian (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Walton: They both know the game as well as anyone Iíve ever been around. Coach Olson is more of a disciplinarian, you know, his way or no way. Coach Jackson is more make it a team discussion, how certain people want to play the defense, play screen and rolls, things such as that. Theyíre both unbelievable at winning ballgames and being able to adjust their game plans.
Q: Sup, how does it feel to be a rookie in the finals?
-- Cohren (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Walton: Itís awesome. Itís amazing. Iíve learned a lot this year and now Iím getting to experience the NBA Finals my first year.
Q: In this Detroit series, how will you personally play your part?
-- Linda (San Francisco, Calif.)
Walton: I have no idea, thatís the crazy thing about Coach Ė heíll throw you in at any time. You may not play for a week and then he might throw you in in the fourth quarter. I learned that all year, just to stay ready and be ready whenever he calls.
Walton answered your third round of questions on Wednesday, May 26:
Q: How does it feel to make it to the third round being a rookie and
what defense changes do you guys need to work on?
Ė Lacey (Palm Springs,
Walton: It feels good. A lot of people try their whole careers to get
this far. I am very lucky to be on such a good team that has been able
to do this. As far as defense, I think we are doing a good job. We are
leading the series two-one with our next game being at home, so I am not
sure we really need to change anything.
Q: Are you really excited because you and the Lakers are in the
western conference finals?? How do you feel?
Ė Lakers Fan (El Monte, CA)
Walton: Yeah I am excited. We are in line to win the NBA Championship
here but it is just a step on the way to a dream. It really has been a
fun ride for sure.
Q: What is your favorite part about playing for the Lakers?
Walton: Just being a part of this team. Everyone on this team is a lot of
fun and are good guys. It has been a great experience for me being this
season with it being my first year in the league.
Q: Do you become bothered when people constantly compare you to your
Ė Kate (Greenville, Texas)
Walton: He is a totally different payer than I am. He is a seven-foot
center and I am six-foot-eight three/four man. I really do not let it
bother me and do not really think about it when people make statements
Q: What do you think it will take for the Lakers to win the series?
Ė A.J. (Pearl City, Hawaii)
Walton: We just have to keep executing offensively and move the ball. We
also have to play with some intensity on the defensive end of the floor
and keep doing what we have been doing to win.
Q: Are you glad that you are on a winning team (the Lakers) or would
you rather go on an average or OK team to where you could get more
Ė Anthony (Sacramento, Calif.)
Walton: I cannot lose. I really hate losing so I am glad I am on a
winning team even though I am not playing a lot right now I am learning
a lot and I think that will really help me out down the road.
Walton answered your second round of questions on Saturday, May 8:
Q: How is the morale of the team right now? I canít imagine the great players on your team could really be down. What adjustments have you discussed making to get past the Spurs?
Ė Barry (Barstow, Calif.)
Walton: The morale of the team is good right now. We know that we have to win these next two games, but we are confident with ourselves and have been playing with a few ideas of how to play the pick-and-roll better than we did the first two games.
Q: What do you think it will take for the Lakers to beat a team like the Spurs?
Ė Javier (San Fernando, Calif.)
Walton: We have to just play a full game. We have to play more than just a quarter at a time. As a team, we really have to play a full game in order to beat a team as good as the Spurs.
Q: Do you get any kind of adrenaline rush when you enter the game knowing itís a playoff game?
Ė Chris (Ceres, Calif.)
Walton: Yeah. It is playoff basketball so I do not get to play that much but when I do get in I definitely have some adrenaline rushing through me. I just want to get in there and do my best to help contribute.
Q: What is it like in the locker room at half when you are up by 10 or when you are down by 10? Is there a big difference or not?
Ė Rod (Harrison, Mont.)
Walton: Not really because whether you are up by 10 or down by 10 you still have to come out and play with intensity in the second half. In the NBA a 10-point lead is not that big, so either way you have to come out and play hard to hold the lead or get the lead back.
Q: How does it feel being appreciated and warmly welcomed by the Los Angeles Lakers fans in your rookie year?
Ė Giovanny (Bell Gardens, Calif.)
Walton: It feels great. I am in a new city, and for the fans to embrace me the way they have has been great. I could not imagine being happier anywhere else.
Q: How does it feel to be coached by Phil Jackson with nine NBA Championship rings?
Ė Andy (Alta Loma, Calif.)
Walton: It also is great. I am playing with the best while also being coached by the best. I can really say I have learned a lot my first year.
Q: How was this season different from the ones you spent in college? How do you plan to spend the off-season?
Ė Reggie (Dallas, Texas)
Walton: The NBA season is a lot longer. There are a lot more games to play and in the off-season I plan on just working out, getting better and getting fully prepared for the next season.
Walton answered your first round of questions on Wednesday, April 21:
Q: Hey Luke, what is it like to make the playoffs in your rookie
season, especially playing with the likes of Shaq, Kobe, Gary and Karl?
- Hayden (Bunbury, Australia)
Walton: It is great. The whole year has been a great learning
experience, so now being here in the playoffs, and seeing the way they
step up the playoff games is good for a rookie. It is just great to be
around and watch all of that.
Q: Has Kareem Rush given you any tips about getting by being a
- Ruben (Los Angeles, CA)
Walton: He said that it gets long and you have to do a bunch of things as
a rookie, but just to know that you are going to have to do that and not
to try to fight it at all or else the older guys are only going to make
Q: Who do you consider your best friend on the team?
-- Tiffany (Earlysville, VA)
Walton: Brian Cook, Kareem Rush and Devean. We are all good friends and
have a really good time but probably off the court: B-Cook, Devean and
Fish (Derek Fisher) the most.
Q: Going into the post season has your dad given you any advice
on how playing in the playoffs differs from the regular season?
- Arcely and Danny
Walton: He really only told me that every single game is going to be a
war, and I kind of got that vibe from the guys on the team also. The
older guys know they need us to play so I got a lot more advice from my
teammates as of right now.
Q: I have really enjoyed your great selfless play during the
regular season, can you tell me the affect going to Arizona had on your
- Josh (Anaheim, CA)
Walton: It had a huge affect on me. Playing for Coach Olsen and
playing at the highest level prepared me for right now. When we play in
big games I am used to that. I kind of like playing in the bigger games
so it definitely had a big effect on where I am right now.
Q: What was the hardest part for you to learn, regarding the
- Drew (Las Vegas, NV)
Walton: There is just so much to it. I understood the idea pretty
early on, but just learning how many counter attacks there are to
everything that happens is hard. There is just so much information that
really the only way to learn it is to continue to be in it every day.