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.
Washington's Caron Butler averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Wizards this season.
Q: Caron, how do you get pumped up and ready for games, especially now that you’re in the playoffs and these games are extremely important?
Butler: We know what’s at stake. Personally, you just want to go out there and play the best basketball that you possibly can play.
Q: Hey Caron, I thought that you might be able to answer this, but how do you defend LeBron James? Do you play him up close so he can’t get a good uncontested shot or do you play him so he can take a jump shot or make him drive?
Butler: I think you prefer to make him take jump-shots. I think that will work out in your advantage in the long run. Try to stay a couple of steps away from him, because he is a fast, quick player.
Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals before playoff games, and what is the atmosphere like in the locker room before a playoff game?
Butler: I definitely have my 1-liter of Mountain Dew and I chew all my straws. The atmosphere is unbelievable; everyone is just pumped up to play basketball.
Q: I know that in your career you have played against many great players. Who do you think is a harder player to face – LeBron James or Kobe Bryant? What are there strengths and weaknesses?
Butler: Kobe is more difficult because on any given night he can go for 81. LeBron is a great talent, and he is a tough match up also. They both have the same strengths and weaknesses. I think they are just solid all-around players.
Q: From the outside looking in, you have become the heart of this team. It seems as though the ‘bruiser’ mentality you’ve brought to the team has a greater effect offensively rather than defensively. With respect to the Wizards organization, on which end of the court would you prefer to leave your mark?
Butler: Both; it’s not a one-sided answer, it’s both sides.
Q: Great game back here in DC! What do you think is the strategy most needed to defeat the Cavs and hold back LeBron in these next 2 games?
Butler: Just continue to protect the paint. Give good, clean, hard fouls when people come in and we will be fine.
Q: The Wizards seem to be sharing the ball more during the playoffs. Is there more of an emphasis on penetrating and finding the open man against the Cavaliers?
Butler: We are just playing good basketball. Whoever is open is going to get the ball and make shots.