Timberwolves expect ‘desperate’ Suns heading into Game 3

Following a final practice in Minneapolis before the Minnesota Timberwolves fly to Phoenix to face the Suns in Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs, head coach Chris Finch and point guard Mike Conley insist they know what to expect – a team that’s desperate to win, and a crowd eager to watch them do it.

"I think we’re going to get their biggest effort yet coming out of the gate," Finch said on Thursday. "It’s a big point of emphasis to match their big starts – that’s when they’re at their best."

The Timberwolves head to Phoenix up 2-0 in their best-of-seven series after a 105-93 win Tuesday night at Target Center.

The Wolves previously went 0-3 against the Suns in the regular season, but have since found their confidence against them in the playoffs.

"People are playing in rhythm – it’s almost like little brothers growing up," Finch said on Thursday. "They are a better version of who they’ve always been. There’s no reason for them to take a backseat to anybody."

A large part of their newfound success has been defense, having held the Suns to under 100 points so far in both games of the series.

Finch credits their success on the defensive end of the court to the player’s concentration on the coaches’ game plan, in addition to their season-long effort.

The head coach is also quick to credit his staff with working together to craft successful plans to attack their opponents on a nightly basis.

"We have a tremendous amount of coaching talent on this staff. It’s probably the most experienced, creative staff that I’ve ever worked with," Finch said. "They work together extremely well – there’s no egos, no turf battles, nobody gets offended if an idea is taken or not taken. It starts there."

As coaches make adjustments for continued success before facing Phoenix for the third time in a week, Conley has faith that the team will be ready to compete against a team that will come out desperate in front of its home crowd again.

"They have five guys that can all handle the ball and play-make… We want to make everything difficult for them," Conley said on Thursday. "They’re all difficult, but this one will be especially difficult. There’s a lot of emotion – their fans are going to be rowdy, and it’ll be a hostile environment. They’re going to be ready to go."

According to Conley, Timberwolves fans have not yet consistently seen the highest level of play the team can reach.

"It takes a whole season to learn from each other, and we’re still learning little adjustments. A lot of the stuff we do is communicating on the fly, and it takes a lot of trust," Conley said. "We’ve played spurts of our best basketball, but we’re trying to find that more consistently still… We’ve gotta be ready to go. We can’t go into Game 3 thinking Game 1 or 2 is just going to happen."

Both Conley and Finch know the road to a championship is winding, and they still have challenges ahead before anyone in the locker room is discussing parade routes.

"We still haven’t done what we set out to do, which is win the series," Finch said. "We need to be the more desperate team… We have to keep the hunger, the edge, and the willingness to prove ourselves. We know what’s coming, and we gotta be ready for it."

Forward Kyle Anderson’s status for the game remains to be determined, according to Finch, as he looks to return from an injury to his ankle.

"He went through practice, and we’ll see what he’s able to do when we get to Phoenix," Finch said. 

Tip-off is set for 9:30 p.m. CT, with the game broadcast on ESPN and Bally Sports North.