INDEPENDENCE — Since coming to the Cavaliers at the trade deadline, Larry Nance Jr. has gone from starting to coming off the bench to falling out of the rotation to playing off the bench again.
While it got largely overlooked in Cleveland’s dominating 116-86 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night, Nance provided a solid contribution with eight points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in 21 minutes.
“It’s definitely been a roller coaster,” the Revere High graduate said Sunday following a light practice. “I came in playing a lot, then I kind of faded into the background a bit and now I’m getting to play some more.”
Nance, the son of Cavs legend Larry Nance Sr., was the first player off the Cleveland bench in Game 3 and figures to get solid minutes again tonight in Game 4, when his team will try to even the best-of-seven series at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I think we’re in a good place right now,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve got our two lead dogs (LeBron James and Kevin Love) leading the way and the rest of us are just doing our role.”
Nance is no stranger to media coverage, as he was part of the Lonzo and LaVar Ball hoopla with the Los Angeles Lakers, but joining James and the three-time reigning conference champion Cavs has taken that to a whole new level.
“Being in L.A., we had a lot of media around us with the different circuses we had, but here, this is brand new,” he said. “This is something completely different. You can’t turn on ‘SportsCenter,’ ESPN, nothing, without hearing, ‘Cavs this, Cavs that.’ It’s definitely taken some adjusting, but I think I’m there now and ready.”
Do it again
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue liked what he saw from his team in Game 3. The challenge now is to get the same effort from his players in Game 4.
“We know what it takes,” he said. “We’ve been here before. We’ve got a lot of veterans, a veteran crew. They know what it takes to win. We can’t get satisfied with one win. It’s just one. We’ve got to come out (tonight) and do it again.”
Lue was especially pleased with his team’s defense in Game 3. Better still, when Boston did manage to score, Lue noted there were three occasions where the Cavs came right back and scored in six seconds or less.
“We didn’t hang our head,” he said. “We pushed the basketball, pushed the tempo. That’s what we need.”
Combo guard Jordan Clarkson, who didn’t play at all in Game 2, made the most of his opportunity in Game 3, jacking up 11 shots in 18 minutes and going 3-for-7 on 3-pointers for nine points.
“Seeing shots go in is always a good feeling,” said Clarkson, who was particularly aggressive in serious garbage time. “I’m definitely getting those opportunities when I’m on the court. A lot of it is just shooting it with confidence.”
As for not playing in Game 2, Clarkson said: “It is what it is. Coach makes his decisions. I’m here to win.”
- James is six field goals from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for the most in league playoff history. He can pass Rasheed Wallace and Robert Horry (both with 225) for 15th all time with one block and needs 16 rebounds to overtake Karl Malone (2,062) for sixth.
- Love needs three field goals to pass Mark Price (280) for fifth in team playoff history, and six to pass Nance Sr. (283) for fourth.
- With an appearance in Game 4, J.R. Smith will pass Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao (both with 71) for the second-most playoff games in team history.
- The Cavs are 13-1 all time in the playoffs when they make at least 15 3-pointers. They were 17-for-34 in Game 3.
- Game 4 will be Cleveland’s 200th straight sellout at The Q, dating to Oct. 30, 2014.
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