Katie Smith of the Minnesota Lynx checked in to answer some questions from her WNBA.com Playoffs Mailbox. Here's what she had to say before the start of Minnesota's first round series against the Los Angeles Sparks.

How excited are you to finally make the playoffs?
-- Brian (Gallup, NM)

Smith going strong to the basket.
David Sherman
WNBAE/Getty Images
Smith: "It's been a long haul. It's one of those things where you think, 'man, it's about time!' But at the other end of it, it's special. There's excitement: the atmosphere, the crowd... what's riding on it is totally different than the regular season. It is special and, obviously, something I'm glad to be a part of."

Hey Katie, with the playoffs coming up, does the team do anything extra to get ready?
-- Marc (Bloomington, MN)

Smith: "No, not necessarily extra or different. We do, obviously, break down more of what we need to do against L.A. defensively and offensively. You know who you are playing, you know you have them for at least two games, three games at the max. It's just pinpointing and really breaking down what you need to do to stop people and also to score on them. So I guess you just pay attention to a bit more to the finer points, since you are preparing for one team."

Hi, Katie. First of all, congrats on the success you and the Lynx have had this season. Seeing as you were the player that got me interested in women's college bball when you made your run in the tourney as a freshman, I was wondering what the difference in mindset and preparation is going into a NCAA-style tournament and a WNBA playoff. Is one easier to prepare for than the other? Is it tougher to prepare for one game against an opponent or possibly three games against a team? Best of luck to you and the team. I'm so happy for all of you. Go Lynx!
-- Josh (Bloomington, IN)

Smith: "That's a good question. First of all, thank you -- I'm glad you got interested in women's basketball! I guess in a way, it's different. In the NCAA, it's one-and-done. You've got to let everything go. I don't know -- I think there is a little bit of a different mentality in the WNBA playoffs, because there is one game, but then you're coming back for another. There is a chance to redeem yourself at some point."

Katie, will you personally rely more upon the three ball than the driving jumper against L.A. since their guards are so quick or will a "new" series of screens be set for you? Best of luck to the Lynx.
-- Bliss (Manchester, MO)

Smith: "I'm just going to pick and choose -- take the 'three' when I'm open and drive when I'm open. Sometimes picks on the ball are not effective. It's just going to be the normal game plan."

The Lynx have not had much success against LA. What needs to happen to change that?
-- Deb (Dayton, OH)

Smith: "Obviously, we haven't had wins, but have we had success against them, in the fact of having close games and losing by about two points. I guess our margin for error is a lot smaller than L.A.'s, and we have to go through the game and really minimize mental mistakes, whether it's turnovers, fast-break layups, offensive rebounds. Those little things, I think, are going to be the difference in the ballgame."

Hey Katie! I'm a huge fan of yours. What's the biggest reason for the big turnaround for the Lynx this year?
-- Sarah (Minneapolis, MN)

Smith: "I just think it's adding a few key components, a few more threats. I also think Janell and Gorp have really stepped it up, and everyone has brought their game up to another level. And also just finishing out some close ballgames. And I think Suzie has had a lot to do with it, just her mentality plus her coaching. So I think it's a big combination of everyone and everything."