You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in NBA Playoffs 2006? 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.
Elton Brand averaged 24.7 points and 10.0 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Clippers this season.
CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS MAILBOX
Q: How far do you think your team will go in the playoffs?
-- Antoine, Lawndale, CA
Brand: As long as we play an all-around game of basketball then we feel we can compete with any team. So that means we can go pretty far.
Q: How does it feel to face the Phoenix Suns and two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash?
-- Minihotsauce, Ontario, Canada
Brand: The Suns play a different style of basketball. They shoot a lot of perimeter shots and that makes them very different.
Q: Do you think you'll have to play similar to the way the Lakers played in order to beat the Suns? If not, what will be your gameplan?
-- Sushi, San Pedro, CA
Brand: We can't play the way the Lakers played because they lost the series. We'll implement our own plays and the way we play the game.
Q: Who are you worried about on the Phoenix Suns team the most?
-- Josh, Marshall Islands
Brand: Of course the back to back MVP Steve Nash because he leads them out there and he gets his teammates good shots.
Q: Since that you have entered the NBA, how would you define your improvement from the Chicago´s time to your first playoff this year?
-- Ed, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brand: My mid range game is better. As a veteran you definitely understand the game more.
Q: What did it take you to make it to the NBA other than hard work and practice?
-- Said Seif, Ontario, Canada
Brand: That's really it. You've got to give your all out there. You don't really need size. My good friend Earl Boykins can attest to that.
Q: I think this season was your best season and that you deserved mvp honors.
Brand: Thanks for the kind words. I'll keep working hard and maybe next year.
Q: How much do you watch the other series during the playoffs?
-- Koefoed, Svendborg, Denmark
Brand: Not much unless its a team we could be playing next.
Q: Do you feel a bigger weight on your shoulders as you advance through the playoffs?
-- Alex, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Brand: Yes. Being one of the captains on the team the burden definitely falls on your shoulders. But I enjoy it.
FIRST ROUND MAILBOX
Q: How did it feel to make your first playoff appearance? -- Jamz, Ontario, Canada
Brand: Amazing. Clipper Nation was in full effect with all of the red shirts in the crowd. And to win the game made it a great night.
Q: Mr. Elton first I want to say GO CLIPPERS! My question is how or what did you do to achieve the goal to be able to play in the NBA?
-- Jake, Rhode Island
Brand: I had to keep myself focused, and work hard. You can never take anything for granted.
Q: Everybody thinks in Turkey that you are the real MVP. We knew you were good but this season you are magnificent. I want ask you a question. What's the main difference between last season and this season? Is it Sam Cassell?
-- Shaman, Marmara, Turkey
Brand: Yes, Sam Cassell is a big difference. Cuttino also makes a big difference. The improvement of Chris Kaman, Quinton Ross and Corey Maggette as well as having another year under our belts under Coach Dunleavy is also important.
Q: Hello, my question is when did you start playing basketball?
-- Marcus, Sweden
Brand: When I was six I remember playing. I was so bad I couldn't hit the rim. But it was fun and I kept trying until I got better.
Q: Hey Elton, what player in the NBA trash talks the most?
-- Miles, Tokyo, Japan
Brand: Sam Cassell. He even trash talks to us, but in a good way.
Q: As a loyal fan in section 215 row 12, I was just wondering, when you are at the free throw line shooting two and the fans are yelling MVP, does this distract you?
-- Phil, Tarzana, CA
Brand: Yes it does. But it makes me want to make the free throws even more when I hear the chants at the line.
Q: Can you tell me how did you train in your early years?
-- Henry, Luneburg, Germany
Brand: Work on dribbling with both hands. Shooting is also important to work on. If you are a good shooter you can always produce something on the court.
Q: I would like to know if you were nervous during the tip-off for the first game? How did you handle it and play it as just any other game?
-- Sam, Sydney, Australia
Brand: I just tried to play like any other intense game. I was excited more than nervous.
Q: I'm a 46 year old 'weekend athlete' who has directed children's programs for 20 years. While I am going through financial struggles, I never regret for a minute the decision to impact children's lives in a positive way. You embody what a professional athlete should be by your attitude and work ethic. You are a wonderful role model for all the youth watching you. All the best to you in the playoffs.
-- Mark, Phoenix, AZ
Brand: Thanks, Mark. I try to be the best person I can be on and off the court. I try to lead in a positive way for the children, just like you do.
Q: If you make the conference finals, which team would you rather be playing between Dallas and San Antonio?
-- Ahmad, Herndon, VA
Brand: We just want to get to the Conference Finals. Both of those teams have been great all year and we've played both of them pretty well.