Wolves' Finch will coach courtside after surgery

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DENVER — Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch handed his crutches to a team staffer, grabbed a wobbly railing, and walked up two steps onto the podium in the Ball Arena interview room before plopping down in a chair ahead of Game 1 of the conference semifinals between the Wolves and Nuggets on Saturday.

“All right, that’s easy,” Finch said with a chuckle.

Finch underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee. He suffered the injury last week, colliding with Minnesota point guard Mike Conley in Game 4 of the Wolves’ first round sweep of the Phoenix Suns.

Finch, who finished third in voting for Coach of the Year this season in leading Minnesota to a 56-26 record and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, will sit in a seat slightly behind the rest of the courtside seats comprising the Wolves’ bench. The scorer’s table to Finch’s right should serve as a sort of barrier to protect the coach from careening players along the sideline.

“I feel pretty good, all things considered,” Finch said. “The plan was to try to be here all along. Just see how I felt day-by-day and then just kind of figure out logistically how it might work being on the bench and with the other coaches.”

While Finch will still coach the game, he said he will lean heavily on assistant coach Micah Nori for many of the more mobile responsibilities that come up during the game.

“I’ll be on the bench, but the game interaction, the game flow will be largely run by Micah,” Finch said. “And I’m obviously not in a position to be able to get up, call timeouts, interact with the players, that kind of stuff. But being right there with the coaches and the player in the huddles, that stuff will be the same.”

Before Game 1, Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned his previous coaching ties to Finch, Nori and Wolves general manager, Tim Conley, who hired him in Denver, but said those relationships will be set aside for the second round.

“Whether it’s people we know or don’t know, once that jump ball goes up, they’re in our way,” Malone said.

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