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You Didn’t Want to Have a Lead If You Were the Home Team in the Championship Game in 2016

  If you were the home team in the championship round in the NFL, NBA, and MLB, in 2016, then it probably was not a good idea to have a lead. During the 2016 NBA Finals, World Series, and Super Bowl, the home team ended up blowing a lead and losing the championship. The two common denominators between the World Series and the NBA Finals were that a 3-1 series lead was blown, and a Cleveland team was involved.

When taking a look back at the NBA Finals, the first two games out in the Bay Area were complete and total blowouts. Golden State won Game 1 by a score of 104-89 thanks in large part to their bench. The Warriors followed that performance up by winning Game 2 by 33, 110-77. When the scene shifted back to Quicken Loans Arena,  the Cavaliers returned the 30-point favor to the Warriors in Game 3 thanks to a 120-90 victory.

source: New York Times

Game 4 was a must-win for both teams, as the Warriors were looking to put a stranglehold on the series at 3-1 while the Cavaliers were looking to tie up the series at two games apiece and guarantee the series would return back to Cleveland for a Game 6.  It was a back-and-forth affair, but ultimately Steph Curry hit a few key 3-pointers down the stretch to put the game on ice, as the Warriors took a commanding 3-1 lead heading back to Game 5 in the Bay Area.  However, it wasn’t all good news for Golden State, as forward Draymond Green received a flagrant foul for his low blow to LeBron James in the fourth quarter. The low blow was Green’s 16th technical foul of the season, putting him over the limit for the amount of technical fouls a player is allowed to have in one season. The hostile act forced NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to suspend Green for Game 5 back at Oracle Arena.

The Cavs would take advantage of Green’s suspension during Game 5, as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 82 points (41 points apiece) en route to a 112-97 Cleveland victory. In a do-or-die Game 6 back in Cleveland,  James once again dominated with 41 points and helped the Cavs force a Game 7 with a 115-101 victory.

Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals turned out to be one of the most important championship games in NBA history. The pressure couldn’t have been higher in the Bay Area. The Warriors were trying to cap off their record-setting 73-win season while the Cavaliers were looking to win the city of Cleveland’s first professional championship since the 1964 Browns. With under a minute to go in the NBA season and the game tied at 89, Irving rose up over Curry on the right side of the wing and drained a 3-pointer to give the Cavs the lead, a lead in which they would not relinquish. A 93-89 victory on June 19, 2016, allowed Cleveland sports fans worldwide to celebrate a championship for the first time in 52 years.

Four months later, Cleveland was looking to secure their second professional sports championship in the same year after going decades without winning one. Cleveland’s baseball team, then named the Indians, and the Chicago Cubs met in the 2016 World Series. Entering the final series of the 2016 MLB season, the Cubs and Indians held the two longest World Series championship droughts in MLB. The Indians hadn’t won it all since 1948, and it had been since 1908 for Chicago. The American League won the All-Star game at PetcoPark in San Diego during the season, which meant the Fall Classic would begin at Progressive Field.

Corey Kluber flat-out dominated the Cubs hitters in Game 1, as he racked up nine strikeouts in seven innings of work, and the Indians offense exploded for six runs, leading to a 6-0 Game 1 victory. However, Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta befuddled the Indians hitters in Game 2, and Chicago’s offense came alive, leading the Cubs to a 5-1 victory to even the series at one game each heading back to Wrigley Field. The Indians offense awoke from its one-game slumber by winning both Game 3 (1-0) and Game 4 (7-2), putting them up 3-1 in the series. 

Does that sound familiar?!

In Game 5, the Cubs used a big at-bat from Anthony Rizzo and strong pitching from John Lester, as well as two innings from Aroldis Chapman to come up with a close one-run victory by a score of 3-2, ensuring the Fall Classic would end one way or another in Cleveland. 

source: New York Times

The Cubs wasted little time ensuring there would be a Game 7. An Addison Russell grand slam in the third inning of Game 6 put the Cubs up 7-0. Chicago would go on to win the game by a score of 9-3. 

Facing Corey Kluber for the third time in the series, the Cubs were able to jumpstart their offense in Game 7, highlighted by two solo home runs from center fielder Dexter Fowler and catcher David Ross. The Indians were trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Rajai Davis was at the plate facing the Cubs’ Chapman, one of the best closers at that time in the game.  With a runner on second with two outs and a 2-2 count, Davis choked up on the bat and sent a fastball out to the home run porch in left field, tying the game at six. Progressive Field had never been so lively during that moment, as Cleveland fans thought they were closing in on a World Series title for the first time since 1948. The ninth inning came and went with the game still tied at six, and it would take extra innings to decide a 2016 World Series Champion.

It turns out Mother Nature had other ideas because in the top of the 10th inning, the tarp had to come out onto the field due to a rain delay going into effect. The rain delay lasted approximately 20 minutes, and it seemed to take away all the emotion and momentum Cleveland had after tying the game in the eighth. The Cubs seized the opportunity by scoring two runs to go up 8-6. Then, in the bottom of the 10th, Kris Bryant made the game-ending play by throwing out Michael Martinez on a 5-3 putout, capturing the World Series for the north side of Chicago, ending a 108-year drought for the Cubs.

In Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons were the designated home team when they took on the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Kyle Shannahan was pushing all the right buttons early on as the Falcons offensive coordinator, as Atlanta was able to build up a sizable lead of 28-3 over Tom Brady and New England. However, Shanahan and head coach Dan Quinn decided to take their foot off the gas pedal in the second half. Atlanta kept throwing the ball in the third quarter instead of potentially taking time off the clock by running the football and keeping Brady and co. on the sidelines. 

The key play in New England’s comeback came with 2:28 to go in regulation, with the Patriots trailing 28-20. A Brady pass intended for wide

source: New York Time

receiver Julian Eldeman was tipped by Atlanta safety Keanu Neal. Eldeman dove to the ground, beating two Atlanta defenders to the pigskin and secured the ball before it touched the ground. In what turned out to be a historic play in Super Bowl history, the spectacular catch kept the drive alive for the Patriots, who would go on to score on that possession thanks to a James White one-yard touchdown run. A throw from Brady to receiver Danny Amendola would tie the game at 28 and send the Super Bowl into overtime for the first time in its illustrious history.

New England would win the coin toss at the end of regulation and receive the ball to start overtime. Brady and the Pats would march down the field on an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by White to successfully complete the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, kicking off the year of the blown lead for the home team in the NFL, NBA,

and MLB.  


  • Josh Ungar

    Josh is a 26-year-old freelance writer in Cleveland. He is an avid sports fan and loves making content on his YouTube channel expressing his opinion about various topics from across the sports world. He also loves Broadway Musicals, especially GREASE.

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