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Finch is recovering from knee surgery and will be on the Timberwolves’ bench for the series opener with the Nuggets

DENVER – Chris Finch will be on the bench when the Minnesota Timberwolves open their second-round series in Denver on Saturday despite major knee surgery earlier this week.

While Finch will be present, assistant coach Micah Nori will be the one walking around the Wolves sideline, instructing the players and calling timeouts.

Finch used crutches to attend his pre-match press conference, where he said he and his knee “felt pretty good, all things considered.”

Finch had his torn right patellar tendon repaired Wednesday after a sideline collision with Mike Conley late in the Game 4 win in Phoenix that gave the Timberwolves a series sweep in Round 1.

The thinking was that Finch would watch the action in a suite if there wasn’t enough room for him on the sideline to stretch his leg safely. But the Wolves arranged their seats so he could be close.

“I will be on the bench, but the game interaction and flow will largely be managed by Micah,” Finch explains. “Obviously I’m not in a position to stand up, call timeouts, interact with the players.” players, that kind of thing. When you’re there with the coaches and with the players in the group, those things will be the same.

Finch will most likely sit in the second row on the bench to protect his knee. He installed Minnesota’s game plan for the reigning champion Nuggets before undergoing surgery.

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch holds his knee after colliding with Timberwolves guard Mike Conley during the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Phoenix. The Timberwolves won 122-116 to take the series 4-0. Credit: AP/Ross D. Franklin

“(Nori) has the pleasure of sitting next to me the entire game,” Finch said.

These teams know each other well, with front office manager Tim Connelly helping build the Nuggets before leaving for a similar job with Minnesota in 2022. Finch and Nori were also once on Nuggets coach Michael Malone’s staff. Timberwolves guard Monte Morris was drafted by Denver in 2017 and spent five seasons with the Nuggets.

“I think it’s cool, I don’t really care,” Malone said of the familiarity between the teams. “Whether they’re people we know or not, as soon as that jump ball goes up, they’re in our way, and we’re in their way.

“Chris Finch, who I think will be – I can’t wait to see this – on the sidelines in some capacity tonight, was on my staff briefly. … Yeah, there’s a lot of guys (with connections ) but that’s all lost when the jump ball goes up, man. This is about competition at its highest.”