Timberwolves coach Chris Finch ruptured patellar tendon in late Game 4 collision

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Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch paid the price for the team’s first playoff series win in 20 years. Finch suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his right leg on a collision with Mike Conley late in the fourth quarter of Minnesota’s 122-116 win over the Phoenix Suns that completed a four-game sweep.

The play occurred when Suns guard Devin Booker bumped Conley as he dribbled up the sideline, near the scorer’s table. Conley then ran into Finch, who tumbled into fans seated right next to the Timberwolves bench. He crumpled to the court and held his knee, the pain visible on his face. He had to be helped to the locker room and assistant coach Micah Nori finished the game.

Television cameras showed Finch in the locker room with the team after the game, celebrating on a chair while his players gathered around him. He was able to walk out of the locker room on crutches. The team did not make any announcement about treatment plans after the game.

“I didn’t see him at first, I was just trying to push the ball up the floor and Book hip checked me out of bounds,” Conley said.

Finch finished third in the Coach of the Year voting that was announced earlier Sunday, behind winner Mark Daigneault from Oklahoma City and second-place Jamahl Mosley of Orlando. Finch led the Wolves to 56 wins this season, the second-most in franchise history. In doing so, Finch showed that a unique roster construction relying on two 7-footers in Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns could thrive after many doubted them last season.

“Prayers up for him,” Conley said after Game 4. “I’m sure he’ll be fine. We’ll do it for him and we’ll keep it moving.”

Because the Wolves swept the Suns, Finch will have a little time to address his injury. They will face the winner of the Denver Nuggets–Los Angeles Lakers series. The Nuggets lead the Lakers, 3-1, going into Game 5 in Denver on Monday.

Finch is a hugely popular figure in the organization, particularly with the players. He has a straight-forward approach with them and has earned their respect by holding them accountable and helping them to improve. The Timberwolves have made the playoffs in each of his three full seasons, a stretch of success unheard of in these parts since Kevin Garnett was in his prime.

“Not even just building a relationship with me, the entire team, the entire organization. He’s just a likable person,” Anthony Edwards said earlier this season. “He’s a great coach. He will coach you hard and he comes in ready to work every day. You look forward to working with someone like that.”

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(Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

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