You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in NBA Playoffs 2005? 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.
Power forward Nick Collison played a significant role in Seattle's first 50-win season in seven campaigns. Send Nick 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 Sonics reach.
CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS MAILBOX
Q: How much of a difference does Danny Fortson make in changing the mindset of the Sonics to become a more physical team? It seems that the great start you guys had was in part due to a very physical and intimidating Danny Fortson. What have you and the other big men learned from him?
-- Jason Mitchell
Collison: He's helped a lot. I think one, he's an experienced player and he's experienced playing inside. He's real physical, which helps. It just gives you a dimension that a lot of teams don't have -- to have someone in there that other teams don't necessarily fear, but they really have to give a lot of attention to him on the backboards because he can really clear out space and be real effective.
Q: I know you're listed as a power forward, but often when you guys play small, you'll be at center. Which position do you prefer and why?
-- August Williams
Collison: It doesn't really matter to me. They're pretty similar the way we play. I think I'm naturally a power forward, but the way the NBA is now, there are a lot of teams playing smaller. I don't really mind either way. It's tough when you play the real big centers and you're undersized. That's tough. But usually when we play those teams, I don't play much center anyway.
Q: How do you feel getting into playoffs in your "rookie" year after that big injury?
-- Peter Verona
Collison: It's been great. The playoffs are a lot of fun. There are a lot of guys in the NBA who have played a long time and never get a chance to play in the playoffs. The games are more exciting, you're playing for more -- it's great. For me personally, being out last year and being able to play a part in going to the playoffs is huge.
Q: Nick, your 70-foot shot at the end of the third quarter in Game 1 of the series with San Antonio was incredible. What were you thinking when it went in?
-- Marshall S.
Collison: I was just surprised it went in. I was shocked, really. That's about it. I knew I was lucky to get it off. I just threw it up there and it went it. There wasn't much to it, really.
FIRST ROUND MAILBOX
Q: Yo Nick, First off nice work in Kansas. But let's get to the game at hand. I'm hearing alot of hating from the new casters, ESPN, NBA TV saying the Sonics ain't got what it takes. I belive that we've got a special team this year and we can do great things! But I'm wondering what it's like in the locker room? Are the players affected by the negitive comments or are you all keeping your heads high? Because you know even more then I do (cuz your there) that this team is going to get it done. Thanks for the time, Just another die hard Sonics Fan! P.S. I smell sweep!
-– Al Neale
Collison: It doesn't affect us negatively at all. We're all professionals and, if you play the game long enough, you know that what people outside a team say is pointless, it's a waste of time. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong, but it's not going to affect the way you play. We've used a little bit of it as motivation, but I think playing in the playoffs is motivation enough. You're going to play as hard as you can regardless of what people are saying about you.
Q: What up Nick!
Congrats on goin 2-0 against the Kings. I just got one quick question. How far do you think you guys can really go and if the Sonics make it to the finals, how do you plan on stoppin big teams along the way? Just wanna say good luck to all ya and keep bustin them shots.
-– From da man smoother than Cola Tola Soyele
Collison: I think we can win the whole thing. Who knows if we will or not, but we've shown we can beat every team that we would have to face at some point of the year except Boston - they swept us. The rest of the playoff teams, I can't think of anyone else that swept us. I think we've played well against the teams that we have to play, and we're just going to have to play our game and do what we've been doing - scrapping, rebounding, guys playing their roles, and then Rashard (Lewis), Ray (Allen) and Luke (Ridnour) have to hit shots. Nothing secret; we've just got to do what we've done all year and be as good at it as we can possibly be.
Q: Hey Nick, first off I'd like to say that I've been a Sonics fan this my first year in school which was in 1991... and I'd like to say thank you for bringin back basketball ball to the North West. I just got back from game 2 against Sacramento, and I can't remember the last time I heard the Key so loud. Anyways back to my question, your old college coach was in the crowd that game (Roy Williams), did it make you nervous at all to play knowing that he was in the crowd watching you?
-– Jordan Estaban
Collison: No, not at all. I've played over a hundred games with him on the bench. It was nice to see him. I didn't get to talk to him very much, but it was good to see him. I wish I could have talked to him a little more, but he's busy, he's recruiting, things like that. It was good that he could come out and support me and Greg. He was there to see Ostertag too, another of his former players.
Q: First of all I am from Seattle and I am a huge fan of yours and the Sonics, and i want to thank you for the great season. I believe you guys can go deep in the playoffs. Ok, so Jerome has been on fire lately and i was wondering what you think has changed to allow him to play so well as of late?
-– Angelo Heliotis
Collison: He's just concentrating more, he's focused more. While he's on the court, he's into the game, he's active. Before, he'd just have stretches where he wasn't. With his size and talent, that's all he needs to do is just focus and be active and be involved on the defensive end and rebounding. Then offensively, he's so big, he's been patient and he's playing with confidence.
Q: Earlier in the year it seemed you were getting alot of fouls. Which was costing you court time. That problem seems to have gone away what was the reason for this was it just getting used to the speed of the game or does Nate want you frontliners to foul a bit to put the opposition off their game? Also who and why would you rather play in the next round the spurs or the nuggets?
-– Andrew Campey
Collison: It was just me not knowing what I could get away with and what I couldn't get away with. I think now I have a much better understanding of how to guard guys. Another thing with me, a lot of times I have problems - and I had them in college too - realizing when you're beat and when you have to just get your hand out and hope he misses. There are times where you just can't make a play on the ball, and those were the times where I would make silly fouls and that would set me back. I think I've been able to shy away from the silly fouls. I'm still going to get some, but the silly ones I've been able to get away from.
Q: Nick, I notice that with the exception of Jerome, the Sonic posts are all in the 6'8-6'10 range. Many of the posts in the League are 7 feet and over. Such as Brad Miller (7'0) and Greg Ostertag (7'2). Yet you and the others rebound well and defend the interior tenaciously. Do you have any specific tips for playing against taller opponents around the hoop? ps. you had a great career at Kansas and are an inspiration to many.
-– Coach Bean
Collison: You just have to do your work early. You have to anticipate well. Defensively, you have to be able to anticipate when a guy is going to post up and be already in front of him or not allow him to step in and keep him off his sweet spot on the block. Rebounding, same thing. You just have to anticipate where the shot's going to go and make contact with those guys before they can make contact with you.
Q: What does it take to stop the King's shooting?
-– Paul Chou
Collison: Defend them. Defend all their cuts, pressure the ball so they have less open looks. The more open looks, the more they're going to make. If we can just make each one tough, get a hand up on it, that percentage will go down.