Major factor expected to miss Nuggets Timberwolves playoff series

Apr 10, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) shoots over
Apr 10, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) shoots over / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Nuggets and Timberwolves enter their second-round playoff series with good health relative to the rest of the league. Almost every team is dealing with injuries, and many big stars have been missing games or playing at less than a hundred percent.

The NBA playoffs have been loaded with injuries

Stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Julius Randle, Jimmy Butler, Kristaps Porzingis, Zion Williamson, and others have already missed playoff games. And others like Joel Embiid, Tyrese Haliburton, Jamal Murray, and others have clearly been playing through injuries.

But considering that, the Wolves and Nuggets have remained pretty unscathed. They’ll both have their starting lineups intact, and their full lineups of rotation players should be mostly available. But there was one major surprise injury that could have a huge impact on this series.

Surprising and unusual injury for the T-Wolves

In their game four victory over the Suns, Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley ran out of bounds and collided head-on with head coach Chris Finch. Finch took an ugly fall and stayed down, even being treated by the medical staff.

It turns out Finch tore his patellar tendon which will require surgery and takes roughly six months for a full recovery. While Finch is expected to be fine, this will likely affect his ability to coach from the sidelines.

Timberwolves assistant coach Micah Nori is expected to take control and lead the team in round two against the Nuggets. Finch underwent surgery on Wednesday, but his leg will need to be immobilized, making it unlikely he’ll be on the bench.

There has been some talk of Nori wearing a headset and communicating with Finch remotely, but regardless, it appears that the coaching situation will be unorthodox at best. The team has expressed support and confidence in Nori, and I’m sure schematically nothing will change. 

But playoff games can be micromanaged with rotations, timeouts, and adjustments. Finch has done an amazing job with this team and gotten himself into Coach of the Year contention. It’s unclear just how much this change may impact the series, but it’s fairly drastic for a team to suddenly be without their head coach for one of the biggest series’ in franchise history.