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May 20, 2024 24 mins
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And very happy to be joined byChris Finch, coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves,
onto the Western Conference Finals against theDallas Mavericks. This is courtesy a
prize pick Stalley Fantasy Made Easy andsecond Harvest Heartland and two Harvest dot Org.
Chris, what an awesome night,What an awesome step taken for the
franchise. You beat them down withthat defense, and the champs seemed to

be dead out of gas in thefourth quarter. The defense traveled, my
man, And how are you feelingthis morning? Yeah, feeling pretty good,
Pa, Thanks for having me on. Yeah, defense always travels.
You know, it doesn't rely onanything other than effort and focus and execution
of the game plan. And we'vebeen pretty good at that all season.

You know, that game was amicrocosm of the entire series. If you
asked me, it was a wildone thought that I thought the series in
general was drunk, you know,I mean, no one could make heads
or tails of what was going on. But we knew all along, and
we played our best bathroom ball.We felt it was better than their best
basketball, and whenever we were ableto get to that point in the series,
we were able to dominate. Hey, Chris, Chris a last night

being a micro cosm of the entireseries. When you said that after the
game, I thought about it fora second and I'm like, well,
I mean, this one was closerthan most, at least you know,
in the second but then in thefirst half they're blowing you out. The
second half you blew them out ina series that was full of blowouts.
Is that what you mean by amicro cosm in one game of the entire

series? Yeah? Absolutely. Youknow, both teams played their best basketball
at times, was able to imposetheir will on each other. With them,
it was largely their offense. Youknow, they if they were able
to shoot above fifty five percent forthe season, let alone for the series,
they would win. And the threegames if they won they shot over

fifty five percent against US vice versa. You know, we're able to keep
them below that number, and certainlywell below fifty. We we we were
able to impose our will and ourdefensive prowess, you know, rose to
the top and was able to carryus. I mean said all that.
For me, the key to theseries was our offense. Like if we
were able to generate good offense andthen score. We were able to set

our defense in the way that weneeded to to really stop them, which
means get to the right matchups,get to the right opportunities to double team
when we were double team, andget to the right opportunities and pressure the
ball up the floor when we wereable to do that. When when we
weren't able to generate good offense aswe as we saw in the first half
last night, you know, theywere able to get out and transition,

they were able to play a littlebit looser. We weren't able to get
into their body. Their bigs dosuch a great job of pushing, you
know, Jokic brings the ball up. Gordon was handling a lot, you
know, starting in the middle ofthe series. That was one of the
ways that they were able to kindof counter our pressure was to allow him
to bring it up. And thoseguys, you know, had a natural

speed advantage against our bigs, don'tput us on our heels right away.
So finding our offensive rhythm in thein that Game six was certainly huge.
And you know what I was upsetabout the first half of Game seven was
we had a total regression. Youknow, we just didn't do the things
we knew that worked in game six. It wasn't like they were doing a

lot different. They were being morephysical. I think that had bothered us
a bit. We just had toget back to trusting the pass and trusting
the next play and trusting each other. What what What did Anthony do to
Jamal Murray's offensive game in the thirdquarter? You guys couldn't get squared away
in the first half. Yeah,I mean, I mean I knew.

I knew that type of game wascoming from Jamal's this type of player he
is. You know, he's abig, big game player. He had
hadn't played well. He's super competitive, and you know, he got started
in the first half. The veryfirst bucket for him and the game,
I believe, was a step backthree over a cat switch, which was
a tough shot, but he madeit, and then you know, he

was able to kind of get intoa rhythm. A lot of it was
getting some separation off of the twoman game with Jokics that he hadn't seen
that much kind of space for mostof the series, and Anthony was quite
frankly just able to get into himin the second half closed that space down
didn't need as much help navigating thosescreens, picked them up a little bit

more, you know, worked themback and forth. They kind of went
away from their big handling more ingame seven, which allowed us to get
back to pressuring the ball, whichis something that we were really good at,
and particularly against Murray. Chris.You you mentioned it earlier. You
felt all series your team, yourbest was better than their best when you

guys played your best. What ledyou to that belief? Well, that
were the deeper team for sure,and I felt we have we have a
lot of matchups that we could goto. You know, we knew they're
and outstanding teams. Don't get mewrong, Paul, there's no disrespect to
them. But we just felt andwe had a comfort level playing those guys

the twentieth time we played each otherin the last two years, like,
we've been through a lot of thingsthat we know do and don't work.
So we felt comfortable about what ourgame plan was going to be and uh,
if we stayed out of foul trouble, which gave us a chance to
have our best matchups and best uhyou know, lineups on the floor when
we wanted them and needed them,and we were playing really good basketball,

taking care of the ball, andyou know, we just felt that we
were we were, we were betterand deeper. And again, no disrespect
that through the regular season, Uh, we split with them to too.
One of the games they beat us, we we didn't have a bunch of
guides, which is part of theNBA regular season landscape. There's no excuse,

is there. But even in thatgame, you know, we had
no rooty, no cat, noNOAs which is kind of our superpower against
them with all that size. Wecame up and we fought him, and
we almost won that game at home, and then we went out there in
the second half of the started comingdown the stretch. You know, we
split with them on their plate attheir place. We felt comfortable in their
building all season long, always haveand uh, even though they beat us

in the in the in the gamethat really kind of gave them the upper
hand for the top seed in theWest. You know, we felt we
played really well and then kind offell apart at the end, which was
a good learning experience for us becausewe knew to beat them we had to
execute down the stretch, which wedid in Game one, which really set

the tone for the series. Inmy mind, Karl Anthony Towns. He
saved the night, didn't he inthe first half when Anthony couldn't get going,
and and he won the game onthe put back dunk on Conley's miss.
Seriously, with Kat, what anight? Yeah, incredible. You
had an incredible Game six and anincredible Game seven, and both of them
were very different, you know.And also I think it's just building on

what he did in the Phoenix series. Game four of the Phoenix Series,
the closeout game there, we didn'thave much going offensively, you know,
they had started aggressively throwing multiple bodiesthat Anthony taking him out of his rhythm,
and that left Cat you know,a lot more in single coverage,
and he had a huge night thereand carried the load when we weren't able
to to generate consistent offense outside ofhim. You know, he was phenomenal

the defense he played on jokicch whetherit be one on one or in the
double teams. He guarded him oneon one quite a bit through a lot
of the series. And you know, just I couldn't be happy for happier
for Kat and proud of him.You know, we talked about him many
times. You know, the sacrificesthat he's made to make this whole thing

work, which is what you allhave to do. You know, they
don't probably get enough credit. Imean, it's been noted, people talk
about it, but he's done itso willingly and it's made all the difference.
Chris Bench, coach of the MinnesotaTimberwolves, onto the Western Conference Finals
Wednesday at Target Center. They havehome court advantage and they hook the Dallas

Mavericks, and we'll get into asneaky little preview on that momentarily with Chris.
Second Harvest Harland two. Harvest dotOrg has brought us Chris for three
years now, Prize Picks, DailyFantasy Made Easy. They're also on board.
Karl Anthony Towns back to him fora second, but off what you
said about you know, he's checkingJokic, best player in the world,

as you describe him a series afterevery game he checked and guarded Kevin Durant.
I mean, to go from thatseries to this series against those two
and for him to play as calmlyas he's played. What has led to
Carl playing so calmly and not lettingthe ancillary stuff get in the way.

I think It's just a couple ofthings. Maturity for short maturity, you
know, having been through it enoughtimes and understanding, hey, I gotta
stay calm, I gotta stay inthe moment. We've been talking a lot
about it as a team in general. But I also feel like, you
know, he's had as he goesthrough this journey right now, you know
we've had some success. He's he'skind of got the monkey off his off

his back in regards of like hecan't win a playoff series. You're not
gonna win a playoff series if KarlAnthony town is on your team, Like
those days are gone. You knowwhat he's doing. If I told you
five years ago that a team withKarl Anthony Towns is going to go to
the Western Conference Finals and he's gonnaguard Durrant and do a great job,
and he's gonna guard Yoga and doa great job, and that's one of

the key reasons that we're there,you would have said, you're crazy,
you know, So just kind ofleaning into that. It's not like he's
become any less talented as a player. He's just become way more mature to
his appro coach and handling adversity,trusting his teammates and the environment that he's

in, and also just understanding howto like deploy his weaponry better, you
know, not having to do itall the time and sometimes and you see
Anthony going through this right now too, like he's understanding, like if I
try to go, go go everysingle time, it's not going to work
because that's exactly what they want meto do. You know. So you

got to figure out, you know, how to use your gravity and get
your other teammates involved. And Ithought that really back to your question about
our best is better than their best. Yeah, we had six guys and
double figures. They needed two guysto score near seventy and it still wasn't
enough. That's well laid out.Go Bear when he parlayed the left hand

and runner with the Alvin Hayes baselinefade away hit right in front of you
guys, I mean you had toknow you were in business at that stage
of the equation, right for sure. And sometimes those things happen, you
know. I mean the finish onthe finish on the runner was I think
to start the fourth right out oftimeout, huge play, and uh,

you know Rudy's done a really goodjob of making the right play when the
bolt and delivered to him in themiddle of the floor. I think at
times this series they took the petthat we weren't going to throw it to
him and that he wasn't going tomake the right play, and and all
credit to him that, you know, there were there were moments in this
early on in the series, particularlyGames three and four, where he didn't
do that, you know, andhe was pressing a little bit, and

then you know, the turnaround atthe end of the shot clock. You
know, everybody becomes a better shooterat the end of the shot clock because
there's no pressure. You got toshoot the thing. So uh sometimes you
know, you get lucky, ratherbe lucky than good, and that one
goes in. But I thought Rudywas quietly phenomenal. I mean, I
think it was in the series.It was like a plus one and eleven,

which is you know, and youknow, everybody likes to criticize Rudy
and it's become you know, partof the NBA, you know, lexicon.
But the reality is the guy's aphenomenal player. He's a winning player,
and we're nowhere near this point withouthim. Yeah, I don't.
I don't get a lot of thego bet criticism. And I'm not being

blind Homer guy here. I meanI know there are deficiencies. I mean,
sometimes, with all due respect,he gets the ball in the paint
and it's like hi, the womenand children. But I remember when kat
was down for a while, specificallyin that Sacramento Friday night game you lost
in overtime, where you guys werereally funneling the ball into him a lot,
getting him to slow down and justgetting him to handle it with patience,

so that you know, from thattime when when you consciously were giving
him opportunities by the basket to bean offensive player to where we are now.
I mean some of it had tohave helped right in calming down in
big spots, no doubt. Andwe told Rudy when he got here,
you know, we're gonna treat youoffensively like we treat everybody else. You

know, we're not gonna put youin a box. We're not going to
tell you our guys not to throwthe ball in certain places. And you
know, it's been a learned experiencefor everybody, like we've had to learn,
you know, how to play alongsideRudy. We've talked about this before.
Mike Conley's arrival certainly kind of acceleratedall that, but it comes It's
also comes down to a level oftrust. You know, when your Kat

had it right away. Cat's alwaysbeen a really good, big, big
passer. You go back to hisdays in Kentucky with Willie Coley Stein,
like they had a great high lowthing. A lot of it's facilitated by
Kat when when at the time CollieStein was, you know, vying for
College Player of the Year, alot of that was off the passes Kat
was giving him. So that wasa bit of a natural connection which we

missed for fifty games last year.But the biggest growth was Anthony. You
know, Anthony learning how to throwthe ball to the pocket and on the
roll, trusting Rudy to do so. And there weren't always times that we
try it a year ago, whichis understandable. It's a part of the
process. That's why when you makethese seismic changes to your roster, you
know, it just takes time.It just does. Like no one wants

to admit it. And if youlook at the two teams that are left
standing now, They're the two teamsthat made the most significant impactful changes to
the roster a year ago, andeighteen months later, you know, it's
paying off. H You know withthe Luca, the Luca Kyrie combo now
looks seamless. It looks like it'salways worked. But it didn't, right,

and it didn't and it never doesright away. So right and and
Chris, when we get into thesemaps in a second, I mean just
three and a half months ago,they they had the fortitude to reshape their
roster in the middle of the game, you know, in the middle of
the season, and it worked.And that's what you have next. I
can't wait for this series. Howmuch how much did nas Read's energy on

both ends late lead to the gameseven win? It was huge, massive,
I mean we were able to youknow, at the time he goes
back into the game to close out. Basically, Cat's in foul trouble with
you know, so and Noads.Cat had played so well. I had
a hard time keeping k Noads onthe floor, and so NOAs was frustrated.

I know he was frustrated with methat we were keep taking him off.
But Kat was playing so well,and we had the matchup there and
but you know, nos stayed inthe game, kept his mind right,
and he comes back in with suchincredible energy and defensively, like we were
not only survived the minutes that catwent out, uh, but also like

thrived in him. He got theblocks, his activity, frustrated the catches,
he rebounded better, you know,offensively, he got out in transitioned,
he got to the offensive that hemade. He just to your point,
he made all the energy plays andsometimes that's what you need in those
games, Like you're not gonna justout execute everybody in a Game seven,
it comes down to, you know, energy, multiple efforts, a scrappy

offensive, rebound here and there,and that's what he was able to provide
for us. It was huge andand to be honest, it's like really
really reminiscent of Game one. Youknow, didn't have a great first half,
struggled to find a rhythm, andthen in the fourth he ran off
ten straight points and turned the tidefor us. Hey, is it fair
to say, Chris that Scott Foster'screw, for the most part let the

guys play it out instead of thereps becoming the identity of the game.
Yeah, I think so, youknow, it's I think it was,
you know, it was definitely that'show they approached game seven. You know,
there's always a few head scratchers everyyou know, every time you're out

there. But for the most part, I thought they let us play,
uh and certainly as the game wentalong, you know, I thought Denver
started the game with way more physicalitythan we did. I thought that's what
bothered us a lot offensively, weweren't playing with enough force in physicality.
Once we were able to kind ofget into that mindset, they were the

referees were very fair in that theyallowed that, you know, allowed us
to bring our physicality up to theirlevel of physicality. Sometimes when one team's
playing with a lot more physicality,the other team tries to fight back,
they get a lot of fouls becauseit just looked out of contact. Yep.
But they didn't do they didn't dothat. They did they did a
good job. Jaden McDaniels twenty twoa game, the last two on seventy
five shooting, I mean, massive, massive, key. Do you guys

winning games right for sure? Imean, defense had been there all series.
Right after Game two, I thinkhe you know, after game two,
I think he only had five pointsa game. Game Game one,
he didn't score it. All ofgame two he had five points. He
was a little down even though wewon, but at the time he was
he was something like a plus fortynine in the series. And I just

you know, I told him that, you know, they listen as how
it goes, and we needed himto start making shots because we knew that
they were gonna take the bet andand Darren to do so. But we
also knew that if we moved theball like we like we do and can
do, and when we do dothat, Jayden benefits greatly from it,
whether it be wide open threes they'replaying off the catch or cutting and slashing
the goop, particularly against the matchups, which are advantageous for him. You

know, oftentimes these stick poorer defenderson him and then if the ball finds
him in the flow of the offense, he's he's very dangerous. But you
know, the media probably heard mesay this many times, like I just
believe shooting is like blackjack. Youjust got to have the courage to sit
the table, keep flipping the cardsand they always turn for you. You

just hope that they turn at theright time, and for us, it
did so with matchups and Jaden,I mean, you know at least where
we said, now does he getLuca and and Anthony gets Kyrie. Well,
yeah, I haven't gone through ityet. Generally that's how we've kind
of matched up against those guys,but you know, well, I'm sure

we'll flip it around at times basedon who else is on the floor.
We got in to yep, youknow, and I think I don't think
Mike gets enough credit for his defenseas well. Yeah, and back to
Foster's crew for a second. Imean Edwards pick on Murray was dead clean.
Uh, Mike's was a little dicey. And when they didn't call the
when they didn't call anything, whenConley picked Murray very very late that then

I was like, Okay, youknow, they're they're letting it be.
They're they're settling it on the courtwith the players, because you've seen fouls
called the plays like that a milliontimes when one team has all the momentum
but they swallowed the whistle. Andyou know, just just with with this
Mavericks team, man, I mean, you beat him three times this year.
Kyrie only played in one of thegames, and and you have you

played them four times in six weeksand all before the trading deadline. I
mean you you talk about you talkabout a great where have you been meeting?
Where are you now? But thelast time we saw PJ Washington,
he was wearing Charlotte teal and hittinga huge three to upset you guys.

That came after Cat was fouled multipletimes driving to the basket with no call
and he freaked out. Now it'sfive on four the Hornets. The Hornets
eventually got PJ hitting that wide openthree in the corner. And PJ is
now an important cog for the DallasMavericks. And carl plays with poise and
doesn't let his emotions overwhelm him.It's just a wonderful dynamic from from then

to now. How has PJ.Washington helped the Dallas Mavericks. Well,
I mean, in any way itwas the key to their series win over
Oklahoma City is shooting. His shootinghas been so high level. But what
I was impressed with watching that serieshis defense, his ability to get out
and guard and switches. The onething you have to do against Oklahoma City

is you got to be able toguard and switches, and he got down,
he guarded Shade, he guarded JalenWilliams, he guarded whoever, you
know, just enough to impact.Competitiveness was there. He rebounded at a
pretty high level. And uh,you know, to your point, they
made you know, they finally figuredout a combination between Luca and Kyrie.

And then what you need to dothen is okay, add the pieces that
you know accentuate your best players.How do you make your best players better?
That's what this is all about.And they needed defense and rolling big
and they got two of them.You know, Lively looks like an incredibly
you know, gifted young rookie.He had an amazing game six for them,

particularly in the fourth quarter. DanielGafford is one of the more underrated
bigs in the league. I've alwaysliked him going back to the days when
he was with Chicago. You know, he just kind of always been played
winning minutes no matter what the teamwas doing around him. Even in Washington.
He was a tough you know,was a handful and a really good

rim protector. And then you geta shooting, versatile forward like PJ.
Washington next to it. Now yougot the ability to spread the floor.
So once you get your main piecesright and clicking, then it's a lot
easier in this roster construction business tosay this is what we need, is
what we feel. And all creditto Nico Harrison and their front office and

going out and getting the guys thatthey needed to kind of keep evolving the
process. This is the first playoffseries for you guys. I mean with
Gobert and Karl, Anthony Towns andMcDaniels and Kyle Anderson nas Reid, all
the bigs you keep you keep wheelingthe teams well, well, Gafford and
Lively. I mean, it's thefirst series you've played against a couple of

legitimate shop blockers, right, Yeah, we're gonna yeah, we're gonna have
there's gonna be some legit rim protectionin there. We're gonna have to deal
with, you know, athleticism atthe rolling five. You know, we
you know, the last two seriesit's been more skilled fives, you know
for sure, But yeah, therolling and the lob threat wasn't there.

You know, it definitely causes adifferent type of problem. And excuse me,
when you have the wizard reat ofLuca's passing, you know that that
brings into everybody is a threat onthe floor when the balls in Luca's hands
and Kyrie as well. I mean, he doesn't get as much credit for
his passing, but his wizardry ishis ability to create and finish his own

shots and particularly tough ones. Thankyou for the time. I know you're
tired. Congratulations on the accomplishment.Best of luck against Luca, Kyrie and
the Dallas Mavericks, and hopefully everything'swell with the wounded knee. You,
Micah and your staff have done phenomenalwork and the public really really is embracing

and enjoying this and are excited tosee you Wednesday at Target Center. Thank
you, Chris, I appreciate it, per and I'd like to say once
again thanks man. So many Wolvesfans in that building last night and there
in Phoenix. It's really really funto see. Thank you. That's awesome.
Chris Finch, coach of the MinnesotaTimberwells. Courtesy of Second Harvest Heartland
and two Harvest dot Org and Prizepicks Daley Fantasy made Easy. You know

last night was the biggest second halfGame seven comeback in NBA playoff history and
the only when you accomplish that andyou're able to close against the champions on
the road in a Game seven
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