Chris Finch was finally able to catch his breath.
Hired on February 22, the new Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach was thrown right into the fire with his new side playing five games in nine days to begin his tenure in the Twin Cities. Last week's NBA All-Star break gave Finch a chance to assess his team and reflect on his first five games in charge, and -- most importantly -- plot the Wolves' best path for success in the second half of the 2020-21 campaign.
"The break, I think, was good for everybody," Finch told media Wednesday evening over Zoom. "It was much needed after a pretty tumoltuous and emotional two weeks, a lot of change in those two weeks. For me personally, it allowed to reflect on some of the things we need to do a little bit better."
"Accountability" was a word repeated over and over by Finch and his players on Wednesday. As the leading man on the Wolves' bench, Finch knows accountability starts and ends with him.
"We've gotta outline exactly what our expectations are for [the players]," Finch explained. "If we're going to drill down on shot selection or drill down paint defense, we have to create a structure where we can hold them accountable -- not just with video but also with metrics, charting that, and showing it to them. Then it will affect how and when they play, ultimately. We don't want a revolving door of guys in and out of the lineup. We're willing to live with some mistakes and some growth.
"I told [the players]: the accountability part is on me, the effort part needs to be on them."
The players have taken to Finch's message. Though practice time has been limited, the Timberwolves have already seen a difference in their new coach.
"In practice today, he was making changes and he was letting everybody know that he was gonna hold everybody accountable," rookie guard Anthony Edwards told media. "I like it... I'm ready for it."
Added big man Karl-Anthony Towns: "The feeling-out process is over, so I think he has a good idea of what he wants to accomplish. Now it's all of us executing and getting it done."
The eight-day break ends Thursday night in New Orleans, and the second half does the Wolves no favors in a grueling Western Conference. Though Minnesota's record currently stands at 7-29, Finch has made it a priority to change the mindset of his team if they hope for a different trajectory over the next two months.
"He's always telling us 'We're not at the bottom if we tell ourselves we're not at the bottom," Edwards said of Finch's approach. "Last game he was cussing us out because we were playing like we were at the bottom.
"He came into today with the same quote: 'Believe we're on top, and play like it.' ... We should come out on fire."