Cleveland Cavaliers Larry Nance Jr. fractures finger, surgery possible

Marla Ridenour   | Akron Beacon Journal Before Saturday night’s game, Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff joked about Larry Nance Jr.’s r...

Marla Ridenour
| Akron Beacon Journal

Before Saturday night’s game, Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff joked about Larry Nance Jr.’s return after the six-year veteran forward had missed three consecutive games and five of the past seven with a sprained right wrist.

“Yeah, you’ll see Larry Nance tonight. He may be in a suit, or he may be on the court,” Bickerstaff said with a laugh.

That proved to foreshadow the bad luck to come.

Nance fractured the fourth metacarpal on his left hand in a 124-99 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and is estimated to miss six weeks, the Cavs said in a statement released Sunday.

Reports from ESPN and said Nance is expected to undergo surgery, but the statement mentioned only treatment and rehabilitation. 

Nance’s injury is the same one suffered by rookie guard/forward Dylan Windler in the season opener and it cost him 13 games. 

The loss of Nance comes at a critical juncture for the Cavs. They start a trip Monday in Phoenix that includes five current Western Conference playoff teams, with Denver, Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State also among the stops.

If that isn’t daunting enough, the Cavs’ 12 remaining games before the All-Star break include only two teams — Oklahoma City (10-12) and Atlanta (11-12) — that were below .500 going into Sunday’s action.

In 19 games (18 starts), Revere High School product Nance has averaged 9.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 33.4 minutes. His 1.9 steals per game ranks second in the league and he has raised his 3-point field goal percentage to a career-high .381.

Against the Bucks, Nance did not have his usual impact, managing four points, five rebounds and an assist in 23 minutes.

Bickerstaff explained what Nance brings to the Cavs as he spoke of the matchup against the Bucks and two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“A versatile defender with good size, athleticism, strength to make Giannis’ job difficult,” Bickerstaff said of Nance in a pre-game Zoom. “But he’s also a heckuva team defender, so he protects guys, he covers for guys when they make mistakes. He brings a lot for us defensively and then also his ability to rebound the ball.”

Nance is also critical in the Cavs’ offensive plan to thrive off turnovers.

“He’s one of the best in the league at getting deflections and getting steals and that obviously helps us get stops, but it also helps us create easy opportunities on the offensive end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “His steals and deflections come from being in the right place at the right time and not gambling and putting himself out of position. He shores us up on both ends of the floor for sure.”

Injuries have ravaged the Cavs (10-14) this season, but the situation had been improving. Five-time All-Star forward Kevin Love (right calf strain) and guard Matthew Dellavedova (concussion) are also sidelined, with Dellavedova yet to play in 2020-21 and Love limited to two games.

Love went through a pre-game workout on the court and told Fox Sports Ohio during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s broadcast that he’s working on his conditioning and should be returning soon.

“I’m getting my cardio up and you should be seeing me here pretty soon,” Love said on FSO. “I’m so excited to get back, I feel like the game was taken away from me. Had a little bit going on, a little bit lingering into camp.

“Just getting back now, I feel great. I’m so excited and I love this game so much and we’ve got a team that just competes. We’ve got guys that play for each other, celebrate with each other and I’m really excited to get back with this group.”

A Cavs spokesman said Love would make the West Coast trip.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at Read more about the Cavs at Follow her on Twitter at

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Newsrust: Cleveland Cavaliers Larry Nance Jr. fractures finger, surgery possible
Cleveland Cavaliers Larry Nance Jr. fractures finger, surgery possible
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