CLEVELAND: Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. sat in his locker inside the home locker room at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night and reflected on what was an eventful 2017-2018 season.

Year three in the NBA for Nance started with a Los Angeles Lakers team that is rebuilding, and ended with a win-now Cavs team that fell to the Golden State Warriors in four games in the NBA Finals.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined to score 57 points, grab 18 rebounds, dish out 14 assists and block six shots to lead the Warriors to a 108-85 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 20,562.

Nance got a taste of playing in not only the NBA playoffs in 2018, but also valuable experience playing in an NBA Finals.

He will enter the 2018-2019 season wanting to contribute even more.

“This is what you dream about,” Nance said as the Warriors celebrated their third NBA title in four seasons.
“You dream about being on this stage and playing for the best team in the world. We fell short of that, so yeah it definitely hurts.

“. . . I still think there was another level that we could have gotten to and I think we were capable of getting there, but for whatever reason we didn’t get there.”

The Cavs reached that championship level in June of 2016 when they overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors in the NBA Finals and won 4-3 behind LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

James and Love suited up for the Cavs this season. Irving is now a member of the Boston Celtics after a trade during the summer of 2017.

Nance was a rookie with the Lakers during the 2015-2016 season after being selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Nance found stardom at Revere High School and the University of Wyoming, and he is hoping to continue to succeed in Cleveland.

The Cavs acquired Nance in a flurry of trades in February as the roster was remade. Among the players shipped out was Irving’s replacement, Isaiah Thomas.

Nance made an impact on Friday with seven points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block in 23 minutes as a reserve.

With the Cavs facing elimination, Nance was at his best in the second quarter when he logged seven minutes, scored six points and grabbed four rebounds.

Nance opened the second quarter by assisting on a Jeff Green layup at 11:40. He followed that with an offensive rebound and layup at 11:10, a slam dunk off a pass from Rodney Hood at 8:51, and a slam dunk off a pass from Kyle Korver at 6:27 to give the Cavs a 41-40 lead.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue subbed Nance out of the game for George Hill with 5:09 left in the second quarter and the Warriors ahead 44-43. The Cavs deficit increased moving forward.

“This is my first [NBA Finals], so the level of competitiveness and how you don’t really know how bad you want something like this until you are that close to it,” Nance said. “All this is going to do is add more motivation to the fire.”

Nance said he will think of this result “a ton” during the off-season. While he is happy that the Cavs beat the Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics on their way to an Eastern Conference title, he is not satisfied with how the season ended.

“This is the nature of the business,” Nance said. “This one gets to sting all summer until we start up next year. Throughout work outs, throughout practice and all of that stuff this is one thing that will be on my mind.”
Nance said one big difference he noticed when he joined the Cavs was the “resiliency” within his new veteran teammates.

“These guys are so mentally tough,” Nance said. “We have got Kyle with 15 years experience, we have got LeBron with 15 years experience, Big Perk [Kendrick Perkins] and Jeff – you can go on down the line with the guys and their experience.”

The most notable player on the Cavs roster, James, faces an uncertain summer. He can pick up a one-year player option on his current contract and remain with the Cavs for next season, he can return to Cleveland on a long-term contract or he can leave via free agency and sign with another team.

Nance and the rest of his teammates would like to see James back in a Cavs uniform.

“He is incredible,” Nance said of James. “It has been ridiculous getting to go on this ride with him throughout the playoffs. From the outside looking in, you don’t get to see the type of leader and the type of teammate that he is. From just being here, the way he treats us – his teammates, the staff and everybody associated with the Cavs . . . he is much more than just a great basketball player.”