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.
San Antonio's Bruce Bowen is considered one of the top defensive players in the NBA. Send Bruce 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 Spurs reach.
CONFERENCE FINALS MAILBOX
Q: What advantages and disadvantages do you guys have on the Suns? Will you be able to use those advantages to help you win and will the Spurs be able to nix those disadvantages to stop the Suns?
-- Abel Palmer
Bowen: I don't think we have an advantage against them. I think we are just fortunate to be up 3-1. It will be very important for us to execute our gameplan to a "T" even better than we did in Phoenix. There's a lot of room for us to improve and I think everyone understands that.
Q: You have just made the All-Defensive first team. Does this hurt you as a distraction or help you in terms of adding to your confidence?
-- Liban Farah
Bowen: It really doesn't matter at this point. We're in the playoffs, we're a good playoff team and all the accolades are put aside now. It didn't mean anything last year when I made it and we lost in the second round.
Q: Who do you prefer to guard on the Suns, and why?
-- Mark Jones
Bowen: It's not a matter of my preference; it's a matter of what's good for our team at this point. If Pop puts me on whomever, I'm more than willing to guard them. But at the same time, I think he understands that with me guarding who I am guarding now, Shawn Marion, who is an energy guy and gets their team going so much with his energetic play, sometimes you need a guy who understands that.
Q: Bruce, looking at the Spurs regular season stats compared to Phoenix, the Suns seem to have higher numbers in just about every offensive category -- points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, free Throw percentage and even shooting the trey. What kind of adjustments will you have to make to slow up this offensive powerhouse?
-- Anthony Cody
Bowen: Paying attention to detail. If we can do a better job of the little things in transition and not allowing them to get three-pointers, I think it will help our cause a great deal.
Q: How did you become such a great defensive player -- was it natural talent or did you have to work hard at it?
-- Woodrow Carter
Bowen: A little bit of talent and a lot of work; being able to take on the challenge of going up against the top guys, even when you didn't win that battle. Being able to come back the next day and try again -- I think that's the most important thing.
CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS MAILBOX
Q: Just emailing to ask you how you became such a great defensive player? I am an eighth grader going into high school next year. I want to play high school basketball and was wondering if you had any tips? That would be awesome!
Bowen: Work hard and make sure you have fun with the game more than anything else. That's the thing that attracted me to this game -- the fun and the love of it -- and it just grew from there. As far as how did I become a player -- it's just a desire thing. I think in anything you want to do, you can succeed at it. At least you can say you gave it your best effort if you don't.
Q: I wanted to ask you whether you guys have thought about a potential Finals
series against Detroit. They are the only team I am worried about. Have you planned a strategy to combat their defense?
-- Jatin Singh
Bowen: There's nothing that Iím thinking about right now except Seattle because that's who we're playing against. When you start planning ahead of time that's when your focus wanes a little bit and you don't accomplish the goal that you're trying to accomplish.
Q: We've heard some comments from opposing players calling you a dirty
player. I don't agree since I believe there's a big difference between playing physically and playing dirty. What is in your opinion the difference between being an aggressive defender and a dirty player? And what tricks do you consider dirty? Do you consider trash talking dirty or not? Are there certain things you'd never let yourself do on the court?
-- Mykola Dosenka, Ukraine
Bowen: I consider it a waste of time to trash talk because whenever you trash talk and someone scores on you - what good does it do to talk? It's something that's never been in my game... I respect it too much to try and destroy it that way.
Q: My question is as one of the best defensive players in the NBA today, what player will be your toughest match-up as/if your move on through the playoffs?
-- Sean Gavagan
Bowen: In any series it's just a barrage of different types of guys. In the first series it was Carmelo and now it's Ray Allen. There's talent in both of them - they are different types of talents but they're definitely talents. I don't say I'm looking forward to this one or that one, I just deal with whomever I have to deal with.
Q: In your opinion do you see any difference between this year's playoff team and last?
-- Mark Olivares
Bowen: Some of us have been together awhile now -- those that won the championship. Also, the new additions have been really great for us this year. Not to take away from the guys who were here last year, but it's a different type of style we have this year.