Timberwolves coach Chris Finch sees some positives during recent struggles
Despite sluggish start to season, the locker room remains calm and optimistic
MINNEAPOLIS — There is a laundry list of negative things occurring on the court for the Minnesota Timberwolves through 12 games, as the team has stumbled out of the gates to its current 5-7 record heading into Friday’s nationally-televised contest in Memphis.
There is panic in the streets, and it doesn’t appear unjust.
But the feeling inside Minnesota’s locker room continues to be one of more calm — something Timberwolves coach Chris Finch contributed to with his comments to reporters on Thursday.
Yes, Finch again reiterated that Minnesota’s effort hasn’t been consistent enough. The Wolves, he said, are having 6-to-8 minute lapses that are negatively altering the courses of games. But the coach is not painting a picture of all doom and gloom.
Asked what he’s grabbing onto during the recent struggles in which Minnesota has lost five of its last six contests, Finch had a couple of positives.
“One is our offensive growth. A couple weeks ago, the ball was super sticky,” he said. “Now we’re moving it.”
Maybe even too much. The extra passes are leading to high turnover volume, which generates easy transition opportunities for Minnesota’s opponent. But the Wolves still prefer seeing the increased ball movement. Finch said if Minnesota had an average number of turnovers in Wednesday’s loss to Phoenix — instead of the 19 it committed, which resulted in 32 points for the Suns — the team would have sported an offensive rating “equivalent to the best in the league.”
To his point, since Nov. 2, the Wolves are fifth in the league in assist percentage and sixth in true shooting percentage — general indicators of ball movement. But that’s been negated by the fourth-worst turnover percentage in the NBA over that same span.
Finch also thinks Minnesota is “narrowing down” what it wants to do defensively. The Wolves implemented a number of defensive concepts through the first 10-plus games. That has perhaps led to some confusion between players during games about what exactly Minnesota is running. But Finch said the Wolves now see what they can do well and what they can’t.
“Now we can pick from those things, try to establish an identity through that process,” Finch said. “We’re trying to simplify things now and get a little bit better at those things.”
Minnesota’s coaching staff seems to think these morsels of success are signs of positive progression. It could be part of the reason why Finch said he currently has no plans to alter his starting lineup.
“I’m not there yet,” he said.
Neither, apparently, is his team, which Finch said is maintaining a positive morale.
“This team still believes it can be a good team, we just haven’t earned the right to be a good team,” he said. “That’s not something that anyone just gives you. We’re discovering that process. Now we gotta go out there and earn it.”
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