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These are Chris Finch’s Timberwolves – Twin Cities

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Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt — It just didn’t matter.

Take whoever you wanted out of the Timberwolves’ lineup in the last week, and Minnesota continued to defend hard and compete in every game.

Despite being thoroughly outmanned, Minnesota pushed full-strength Utah for roughly 45 minutes, beat Boston and was a couple shots away from knocking off New York.

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Sure, the Wolves’ 1-2 mark over their past three games may not look overly impressive on the surface, but the way Minnesota conducted its business was nothing less than admirable. Armed with end-of-the-bench players and G Leaguers, the Timberwolves still resembled a quality NBA team.

Are the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns’ team? Are they Anthony Edwards’ team? Do they need D’Angelo Russell to succeed? Is their identity defined by hustle players such as Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley?

These are all fair questions that spark the interesting debates that provide another layer of entertainment to the sports realm. And, at various points early this season, the answer to each of them appeared to be “yes.”

But as the season unfolds and circumstances change, something is coming into clearer focus every day: These are Chris Finch’s Timberwolves.

Players in recent days discussed the team’s culture and competitiveness. Everyone, one through 15, is always battling and ready and willing to step in when needed. Jaden McDaniels said that mindset stems from practice and has been molded over time.

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But while every team wants to establish just that, few possess it. Minnesota has exemplified it. Beverley said that’s a credit to the coach.

“That’s all coaching,” Beverley said. “To have (dang) near your starting five out, (Taurean Prince), Naz (Reid), even some coaches out, and for Finchy to go out there and, him and his coaching staff, put a game plan together to put us in a position to be successful, not just now, but throughout the whole season, you gotta give Finchy a lot of credit.”

Beverley has known Finch since their days together in Houston, and from the moment he was introduced as a member of the Timberwolves, Beverley has stated Finch is one of “his guys” — adding there aren’t many of those out there.

But Finch demands that type of respect. Russell has stated Finch has “credibility” in the Wolves’ locker room. He earned it through his approach and work ethic. Players always feel as if they are put in the best possible positions to succeed.

Hours after meeting Greg Monroe, Finch was running plays through the veteran center in Monday’s win over Boston.

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“That’s kudos to coach, just the flow of the game,” Monroe said. “Even though I didn’t have the system and principles, that’s just coaching your players for the night. That’s what he did. He put me in positions where I’m very comfortable.”

He does that for everyone. Minnesota didn’t appear to have the horses to contend over this past week, and yet it did every single night. Finch found ways to take the skill sets of Jaylen Nowell, Malik Beasley and Nathan Knight and concoct a winning formula.

“He’s a hell of a coach, hell of a coach,” Beverley said. “His (after-timeout sets), his mindset, how he conducts practice, very detailed man. His professionalism, I preach to these guys every day that they’re fortunate to have a coach like that.”

Players win games. But the coaches who can get the most out of their players are also separators. Finch is showing an ability to do just that. That also helps foster accountability in a locker room.

Finch has always spoken to and coached Minnesota’s stars in a similar manner to everyone else. If any of the Wolves’ “Big Three” don’t hold up their end of the bargain on a given night, they’ll hear about it.

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It’s easier to do that when you know you can replace one of your best players with a guy on the end of the bench and achieve similar results. If Edwards, for example, isn’t defending, Finch can sit him for Nowell and find a way to keep the Timberwolves’ train rolling. There were instances at the end of games last season where Finch benched Edwards for poor defensive performances.

When that’s the case, players know they are not above the team nor the collective cause. This past week is just the latest example of how Finch has earned the license to coach this team exactly how he sees fit. Because players know what he says is usually right.

“When it comes to the game of basketball, I think the most detailed, most professional team is always in a position to be successful. You might not win it all, obviously health and all those issues. But when it comes to details and professionalism, he’s up there with the top of them,” Beverley said. “Very, very detailed man, very professional. He doesn’t disrespect the game when it comes to practicing, one voice when he speaks, and you kind of appreciate that nowadays from coaches.”

Because it’s not necessarily the norm, as coach control continues to wane in a league run by players.

“But he speaks,” Beverley said, “everyone listens.”

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That’s shown up on the defensive end, where Minnesota has made tremendous leaps, and the team’s general consistent effort. Few thought a team featuring Russell, Towns and Edwards could play like this.

But the Wolves are bringing it on a nightly basis, knowing if they don’t, they have a coach to answer to.

“Like I keep telling these guys, ‘You guys are lucky to run into a coach like this, because you don’t a lot,’ ” Beverley said. “You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for our early success, for sure.”



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