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The Timberwolves Are The Big Dogs Now

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Of all the things we learned about the Minnesota Timberwolves this weekend—that they are young and the Phoenix Suns are not, that this is the first time any Minnesota team has swept a best-of-seven-series, that after years of being a devoutly unserious operation they are finally heart-attack-level earnest, that Anthony Edwards's 40 points can and did trump Devin Booker and Kevin Durant's 82—the one thing we weren't prepared for is learning that head coach Chris Finch doesn't have sufficient levels of dawg in him.

Or the correct number of intact patellar tendons, as it turns out.

Finch was carried off the floor with 101 seconds left in the first genuine gut-check triumph in Woofies history, having been bowling-pinned by Mike Conley as he was trying to navigate both Booker and the sideline in front of the Minnesota bench. Finch took the charge—well, fell into the bench would be more accurate—and was quickly guided from the floor to the locker room, where the diagnosis was more swiftly delivered than most athletes' injuries. The tendon was ruptured, full stop. No HIPAA concerns, no hemming and hawing and no-commenting, no "we're waiting for the MRI," no "we haven't scheduled the MRI," not even "we'll see how bad the swelling is overnight before we decide on an MRI."

While his hyper-interim replacement, Micah Nori, described Finch as "obviously in good spirits," and even descended into cliche hell with, "I know it sounds corny, but it's just next man up, even with the coaching staff," it was just Finch's luck that at the moment of his greatest professional accomplishment he was backstage watching his leg turn highlighter green at the same time he was becoming a meme.

But as this is now the real regular season, we must note two things: 1) he turned away from the point of contact and would have been called for a block by the always helpful Pat Fraher if Booker hadn't already committed the initial foul, and 2) the Wolves were up by four when Finch got hurt and won by six, which suggests that in less than two minutes Nori may have actually revealed himself to be the brains behind the operation.

There has been so little to admire about the Timberwolves (other than Kevin Garnett) and never more than when the 82-game preseason ends. They have two series victories in 11 appearances, and both of those were in the same season; their overall postseason record is the worst of any team that has played since the start of the Eisenhower administration. Their ownership is a complete piefight no matter who ends up with the team, and one is tempted to want the team to win it all just to see if Alex Rodriguez will throw Glen Taylor off the owner's float and down onto Hennepin Avenue. We hope the court fight lasts forever, and that the teachers' union ends up with control of the franchise just to inspire the next generation of Minnesotans to become better educated on contract law.

But for the moment, the Wolves are the hot item. Edwards is now one of the renters on the NBA's new face-of-the-league hydra with Nikola Jokic, Jalen Brunson, Victor Wembanyama, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as soon as he apologizes for that straight-from-the-bowels-of-hell commercial. Add others as you see fit; we're not in the mood to take a quiz on this.

And then there's Finch, who was hired in the Wolves' post-COVID freefall and found a way to take a traditionally b(l)a(n)d team and make it a contender. Well, Edwards mostly did that, to be fair, not just by turning bad halves into great individual games but by transitioning into a full-service team leader. Finch figured out how to make it all work for everyone, though, and is today the second-longest tenured coach in team history—three years and change, minus the 1:41 he still owes the company.

Minnesota now has to wait for Denver to stop goofing with the Lakers (speaking of young stealing from the old), and with any luck they will have sufficient time for Finch's expected operation and subsequent Hugh Freeze turn. In the meantime, he has to do a better job of squaring up if he wants to draw the charge. Or in the immortal words of Anthony Edwards, at long last the inheritor of Garnett's crown as the Wolf with the most dawg: stop fucking fouling.

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