Chris Finch is one of the coolest dudes we've ever had around here as the head coach of a high-profile men's athletic team in the Twin Cities. This is based on his back story, him being straightforward, giving good answers to good questions, making quick work of bad ones, and never working hard to shine the light on himself, even as he's one of the three finalists to be the NBA Coach of the Year.

Whether the Timberwolves coach is calling out his team for a lousy performance or showering it with praise after a great one, there remains a composure and a discernible determination to either change the negative or to keep the positive going.

The reporters fully devoted to covering this team on a daily basis will tell you that he can get into his team with the best of them, whether when witnessing a lackadaisical practice, or at halftime of one of those clunkers.

The guess here is he can get away with that because he's not trying to be a tough guy; that it's easy for players to detect that he's not demeaning anyone, merely working to get the best out of them.

The biggest games he coached earlier in his career were in pro leagues in England, Belgium and Germany (where he was fired after 17 games) before he made his way back to the States, and then landed jobs as an NBA assistant.

Many of us — maybe most — watched the Timberwolves get embarrassed by the Phoenix Suns on the final Sunday of the regular season at Target Center. That put the Suns at 3-0 for 2023-24, and landed them as Minnesota's opponent for the first round of the playoffs.

"Woe is us," "This is the worst possible matchup," became the declaration by a solid margin of sentiment in these parts, but immediately Finch was expressing gratitude that there would be five full days of preparation before playing Game 1 … time to adjust, to cook up new defensive plans.

Still, the Suns had played a hunk of the schedule without the Big Three of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and newcomer Bradley Beal, and that seemed the explanation for their finishing with 49 victories, compared to 56 for the Wolves.

After bringing in Beal, the national optimism for the Suns was such that in the preseason they were the third choice to win the NBA title at +600 (6-to-1) to win the NBA title. The Wolves were 16th, at +6600 (66-to-1).

At best this series seemed a coin flip for Finch's Wolves against Frank Vogel's Suns. And then Finch, his assistants and his players took full advantage of those five days of prep — finding new ideas and new resolve — and they took apart the Suns 120-95 in Game 1 on Saturday.

It was a spectacular performance, turned into a blowout by Anthony Edwards' dominant third quarter.

Then came Tuesday. This was going to be game still undecided with two minutes left, that was my firm belief.

Who could have guessed what the home team had to unveil to turn into a 105-93 victory?

It wasn't that Edwards was going to take over the game as on Saturday. On Tuesday, he was 3-for-12 from the field, 7-for-8 on free throws, and totaled a subpar 15 points. It was not dismantling the Suns on the boards, as they did by 52-28 in Game 1. This time, the Suns' Jusuf Nurkic would lead all players with 14 rebounds, and Phoenix would finish with a 41-39 edge.

It was this:

That Jaden McDaniels, 23 and only 10 months older than Edwards, listed at 6-foot-9 but said to be 6-10, the kid who punched the wall behind the tarp and missed the five-game playoff series with Denver last April, would be the best player on the court for nearly the entire night.

With salary cap Hades approaching, the Wolves last October gave McDaniels a five-year, $136 million contract extension that will kick in starting next season.

And they still are said to have turned down overtures to include him in trades, even as those nights of eight or 10 points and three or four rebounds appeared on his resume during the season.

Because Finch, and President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly, and anyone else involved in personnel expected this:

The talent they witnessed in all those hours of practices and scrimmages across the street, the talent far beyond always being a great defender, would be shown to the rest of the basketball world eventually.

And in Game 2, before and especially after his shoving match with the great Suns guard Devin Booker, the Young Man Who Punched the Wall became the player who won a key playoff game when the shots were not going in for Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Forty-one and a fraction minutes. Twenty-five points on 10-for-17 shooting, including a couple of threes. Eight rebounds, three assists.

Those eight-point, three-rebound nights were mentioned to Finch postgame and he was asked: "Was tonight what you see on the practice courts?''

Finch said: "I think it always is there, I think it's always been there. We just have a team full of guys … the Mike [Conley]-Rudy [Gobert] combination, we have Ant, we have KAT. He just has to find ways around those guys.

"We've said that when the ball is moving, it really brings Jaden to life. He's always been a barometer of our offense. There are things that he can do, and there might be times when we need to put the ball in his hands more often.''

Considering the circumstance, Jaden's best game for Wolves?

"Probably, yes," Finch said "Absolutely."

When such excellence is in there, I get a strong impression the Wolves have the right coach to bring it out.