Home » What happened to Chris Finch? Why Timberwolves coach is on crutches during NBA Playoffs after knee injury | Sporting News United Kingdom

What happened to Chris Finch? Why Timberwolves coach is on crutches during NBA Playoffs after knee injury | Sporting News United Kingdom

The Nuggets won just one playoff game against the eventual NBA champions in 2022, only to bounce back and capture a title the next year. Are the Timberwolves on track to follow the same path?

Minnesota won one playoff game in 2023 against the Nuggets, who went on to win the NBA Finals. A year later, the Timberwolves morphed into a much more formidable contender and knocked out the defending champions. 

Head coach Chris Finch, in his fourth season with the Timberwolves, has done an impressive job of figuring out how to turn the team’s trio of big men into a cohesive unit. The Rudy Gobert experiment seemed doomed last season, but Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid have become the kind of dominant frontcourt Finch envisioned when the deal was made to acquire the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Finch, who was a finalist for Coach of the Year, has his eyes on a championship. He just won’t be quite as involved as he was expecting. 

Here’s what you need to know about Finch and why he’s relegated to the back of the bench during Minnesota’s playoff run. 

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What happened to Chris Finch?

Finch suffered a significant injury in a collision with Mike Conley near the end of the Timberwolves’ series-clinching win over the Suns in the first round. 

Conley was fouled by Phoenix’s Devin Booker while coming up the court with the ball and couldn’t regain control until he slammed into his coach along the sideline. Finch remained down for a few minutes and needed help to walk back to the locker room, though he was able to put some weight on his injured leg.

Despite the injury, Finch was in good spirits in the locker room after the game. It would be hard not to be, as the Timberwolves had just closed out their first playoff series win in two decades and the first of Finch’s head coaching career.

Finch considered observing the game from a suite or just the locker room to start Minnesota’s series against the Nuggets, but the Timberwolves were able to coordinate their bench in a way that allowed him to extend his leg and coach from the second row while assistant coach Micah Nori handled timeouts and other physical duties.

Here’s a closer look at Finch’s exact injury.

What is Chris Finch’s injury?

Finch suffered a torn patellar tendon in his knee. He underwent surgery three days after the injury, and the break between the end of the Timberwolves’ first-round series and the start of their second-round series allowed him to travel with the team to Denver.

The 54-year-old told reporters his knee felt “pretty good, all things considered,” before Game 1 against the Nuggets, though he had to use crutches to get around. He continued to use crutches throughout the series. 

It takes about six weeks for a leg to start bearing normal weight after surgery to repair a patellar tendon tear, according to Resilience Orthopedics. The leg must be immobilized in a brace for the first two weeks after surgery, and it will remain in a brace for the following two weeks while able to partially bear weight.

That means Finch won’t be walking around on the sideline any time soon, and likely not at all this season regardless of how deep of a run the Timberwolves make considering the dangers of standing within striking distance of 10 professional athletes moving at full speed. 

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Who is Micah Nori?

Nori is Finch’s top assistant and is handling the physical responsibilities of the head coaching role while Finch is laid up. That includes calling timeouts and instructing players.

Before taking over a larger role for the Timberwolves, Nori made a bit of a name for himself with some hilarious in-game interviews. Local broadcasts often interview an assistant coach at halftime, and Nori rarely takes the assignment too seriously.

The 50-year-old briefly worked with Finch in Denver of all places, as both were assistant coaches under Michael Malone with the Nuggets in 2016-17. Nori, an NBA assistant since 2009, spent time with the Raptors, Kings and Pistons as well, working under Dwane Casey for a stretch in both Toronto and Detroit.

Nori joined the Timberwolves as Finch’s lead assistant ahead of the 2021-22 season.