MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Timberwolves travel to face the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night, and coach Chris Finch will have a close eye on his roster over the next 24 hours.
Tuesday morning, hours after beating the Sacramento Kings 116-106, Wolves’ players and staff as an organization got COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s one more step towards a greater sense of normalcy, and hopefully, getting a little closer to ending a health pandemic that’s gone on now for more than a year.
The Timberwolves welcomed back fans in a limited capacity in Monday night’s win, the first time fans have been at Target Center since March 8 of 2020. Four days after that, the COVID-10 pandemic shut down the NBA season.
"I think it’s really exciting and important for our organization, society at whole to take these steps to protect ourselves and each other, and do our part in trying to control what at times seems like the uncontrollable," coach Chris Finch said after Tuesday’s practice.
Getting vaccinated comes with possible side effects, so Finch had the Wolves go through a light practice session with largely individual work on Tuesday. It’s his hope that getting vaccinated puts his team at ease the rest of the season, even though there are no certainties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Look no further than Karl-Anthony Towns, who tested positive earlier this season and lost several family members, including his mother, to the virus.
"I would’ve done it a long time ago had it been available. I think personally I view it as almost part of my civic duty. I feel we’ll gain some confidence, doesn’t mean my behaviors all the sudden can become reckless," Finch said. "I look at it as my way to honor the many people who went into the treatment and the handling and the research and the ability to deliver such an incredible medical miracle."
Finch and Timberwolves fans got their first look at what the team could look like going forward with a healthier roster. They didn’t have Malik Beasley, who is out four to six weeks with a hamstring injury. But they did have Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell on the floor for the first time in 26 games.
Russell made his return after having knee surgery in early February. He didn’t start, but finished with 25 points on 7-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-7 from the perimeter, along with five rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes. Towns had 23 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and two steals, and Edwards had 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Most importantly, the Wolves got their 13th win of the season.
"Morale has been good of course, it’s always good after you win. I told the team I thought it was our best performance in being able to control 48 minutes," Finch said.