Timberwolves coach Chris Finch thought he was going to have more time than just one practice before the Wolves hit the floor in the first game of the second half of the season Thursday against New Orleans.
"I was shocked to learn we weren't able to practice [Tuesday]," Finch said as the team reconvened following the break.
But despite having less time than he thought, Finch set about trying to implement what he referred to as a "whole new reality" after Charlotte hammered the Wolves in their final game before the break.
Just what does this new reality look like? Finch said it revolves around a specific concept.
"Accountability is really the word," Finch said "You just have to outline exactly what our expectations are for them. If we're going to drill down on shot selection or drill down on paint defense, we have to create a structure where we can hold them accountable not just with video but also metrics, showing it to them and then it's going to affect how and when they play ultimately."
The games will come fast and furious in the second half as the Wolves play three games in four nights before hitting the road for another three games in four nights next week in Los Angeles and Phoenix.
It leaves little time for practice days like Wednesday.
Specifically, Finch set to work on improving pace of the offense and shot selection on that end of the floor.
"Oftentimes people confuse shooting the ball quickly with playing fast," Finch said. "We want to play with a lot of thrust to give ourselves a chance to score quickly if it's there but then striking the balance of playing into the shot clock."
On the other end, Finch wants to shore up paint defense. He also said as shot selection improves so will the transition defense, which has been woeful for a lot of the season.
"These are things that are within our control," Finch said.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, one thing that is a bit out of their control is their point guard availability for Thursday. D'Angelo Russell is already out as he recovers from knee surgery (though Finch said he is hopeful Russell will begin on-court activities as soon as this weekend), and Jordan McLaughlin entered COVID protocols and is listed as out, meaning the Wolves are missing two of their top three point guards.
But on a positive note for the Wolves, Karl-Anthony Towns appeared refreshed and in good spirits during his media session Thursday. Towns said he was happy in part because over the break his sister got married.
"You can tell I'm smiling because it was a great moment," Towns said.
Towns said he also did some reflecting during the break and is going to revamp his approach during the second half of the season, though he declined to delve into specifics.
"It's going to be a little different," Towns said. "Everyone is very much aware. It takes adjustment. ... I want to start with the man in the mirror first, and that was me. And I have to adjust a little bit, I think, to fit this roster a little better. Especially the system now that we have with Coach Finch."
Finch has made it clear he wants the offense to run through Towns whenever possible, and not just when he calls specific plays for Towns. The challenge is to run the offense more organically through Towns, Finch said. But Towns said the responsibility for improving the third-least efficient offense in the league was on him as well.
"I've made those adjustments I feel are necessary," Towns said. "And obviously we'll see [Thursday] how they come out."