Timberwolves prepare for Nuggets without Chris Finch, who had successful surgery Wednesday

The Timberwolves started their most important week of practice of the season Wednesday in Minneapolis, as they prep for a second-round playoff series against the defending champion Nuggets.

And their head coach wasn’t there.

Chris Finch was a little busy Wednesday, having surgery done to repair his ruptured patella tendon in his right knee.

“It feels a little weird, obviously,” Wolves center Rudy Gobert said of the coach’s absence.

Earlier: After collision with Mike Conley, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch suffers ruptured tendon.

Finch’s surgery went well Wednesday, and now Minnesota will wait to see how the coach recovers and feels over the coming days. The team plans to fly to Denver after Thursday’s practice. While assistant coach Micah Nori doesn’t know if Finch will be on that flight, the current plan is for the head coach to be in Denver for Game 1 on Saturday.

In what capacity remains to be seen.

“You’re always talking through hypotheticals, but not until we know exactly once he’s out of recovery what he can do,” Nori said. “As a worst-case scenario, if he can’t (be on the sidelines), the one thing he’s going to talk to us about doing is he’ll be there the pregame meeting obviously, and then most likely he’ll go watch in a suite and then maybe he’d come down for halftime with any thoughts.”

One thing Finch was adamantly against was sending messages to someone on the bench during the game to try to exert control from afar. He doesn’t believe that’s necessary with the experience and continuity on his staff. Finch has said before that Nori — who will patrol the sidelines assuming Finch is unable to — has head coaching characteristics.

Finch empowers all of his assistants throughout the season to take ownership of their specific departments.

But Minnesota will explore any possible avenue that gets Finch onto the bench whenever it’s physically feasible for him to do so.

“I think that’s what we’re trying to look at, all those different types of things to do. So we’ve even talked as much about moving (Timberwolves vice president of player health Gregg Farnam’s) seat, the trainer’s seat, out so he can extend and he still has a table there to extend his leg and everybody just slides down a seat,” Nori said. “So we’re looking at those different options. Obviously, the most important thing is making sure he’s safe. But secondly, if we can do it, if we can get Finchy down on that bench, we for sure will.”

Finch worked diligently with the staff on Tuesday to put together a plan for the week to prepare for Denver.

“What he was expecting, what he would think would need to be kind of the high points or the key points of what we needed to address and kind of laid out practices,” Nori said.

Minnesota’s week off before the Denver series closely mimics the time Minnesota had between its regular-season finale and its playoff series with Phoenix. In terms of preparation, the week was constructed similarly.

“We took two days, guys kind of got what they needed, so it helped with recovery,” Nori said. “(Wednesday) was more of a (player development day) and kind of individualized how they’re going to guard certain people or how we think they will based on the film, and then (Thursday) we’ll have a really good practice and get into more of the weeds of the game plan and then clean that up for Friday.”

Finch’s imprint is still on Minnesota. But the Wolves will still miss the coach, who, in Nori’s opinion, should’ve been the NBA Coach of the Year.

“He’s our leader,” Mike Conley said.

But Conley and Gobert expressed the players’ willingness to step up where needed. And everyone noted their full confidence in the coaching staff to put the Wolves in the best possible position to succeed.

“They’re basically saying the things you would expect out of those vets: ‘We got you. We’ll do this, we’ll do that,’” Nori said. “The players have been great. Like I told them in there, I said ‘Nothing’s going to change.’ It’s not like myself or anyone on staff is trying to come in here and say, ‘We did that, but let’s try this and do that.’ No, it’s more of the same, and I think that Finchy and my personalities are pretty similar. He’s obviously much wittier and smarter and all that, but at the end of the day, just trying to do what he was doing, and that’s all that the guys have talked about.”

Nori said Finch’s spirits are currently “remarkably high.”

“Typical Finchy fashion, he does not want to be the focus. He trusts all of us, he trusts the players,” Nori said. “He’s like, ‘You guys do yourselves. You’ve done enough.’ The players, at the end of the day, are going to be the ones who decide this series.”

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