Yankees fans know the feeling because they have lived it.
The impossible victories that go the wrong way. The feeling of the walls closing in. The sinking pit in the stomach that comes with being on the wrong end of history.
That is the set of emotions roiling through Miami now, as the Heat face down the same ignominy as the 2004 Yankees against the same city: Game 7 after being up 3-0 in the series. And after Saturday night’s , the Celtics are favorites to become the first basketball team to pull off a reverse sweep from 3-0 down.
Right down to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez sitting in the Kaseya Center stands for Game 4, this has followed a script that feels a little bit too familiar.
with extra-inning victories at home in Games 4 and 5 before Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in Game 6 and Johnny Damon’s grand slam in Game 7.
The Celtics did not need any dramatics until Saturday, but won Game 4 in Miami, then Game 5 in Boston. Game 6 was the first time they needed something out of body to happen after Al Horford fouled Jimmy Butler on a 3-point attempt with three seconds left and Butler hit all three shots, to put the Heat ahead by one.
But the referees put three seconds on the clock, instead of the 2.7 or 2.8 that it looked like was necessary. And White, the inbounder, was left free after Marcus Smart’s heave, with Gabe Vincent committed to defending Jayson Tatum. And so he got to the hoop and flipped up a shot, the ball leaving his hands with 0.1 on the clock.
And now we are awaiting Game 7 in Boston.
Damon, by the way, was in Miami on Saturday — suddenly associating with the Red Sox again after an acrimonious divorce that led to him being a Yankee. You can bet that luminaries from 2004 will be at TD Garden on Monday. Wouldn’t you want to summon those ghosts?
It feels more than a little bit cruel to New Yorkers that it is Boston, always Boston, doing this. Boston, after 2004, after Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, after 12 championships across four sports since the turn of the century, authoring more history.
That is what halts you from enjoying this, of being glad the Yankees may soon have company, of proper wonder at the achievement the Celtics might be about to pull off.
Of course, it is no guarantee that they will pull it off, though it might feel as such.
Boston is a -310 favorite, which translates to 75.6 percent if you subscribe to the notion that a Vegas model is the best predictive measure out there. That is substantial. The Celtics are at home, and it does now feel like all the momentum and all the weight of history is on their side. Plus, they are undeniably the better team on paper.
But Miami has beaten them three times in this series, including . The Heat have a big-game player in Jimmy Butler and a big-game coach in Erik Spoelstra who will not collapse under the burden. Against all odds and instinct, Spoelstra projected calm Saturday night.
“Look, this is the way our season has been,” he told reporters. “This is one hell of a series and at this time right now, I don’t know how we are going to get this done, but we are going to go up there and get it done.”
Three times in NBA history, a team has been pushed to a Game 7 up 3-0, and three times it has won. In a weird way, the pressure is on the Celtics, too — all the same questions that hung over them going into Game 4 would jump right back into play with a Game 7 loss.
Yes, the resilience they’ve shown is impressive. But no, this is not a series they are supposed to lose — especially now.
Of course, you could have said all of this on October 19, 2004 as well, swapping only the names and sport.
And then just two innings into the next night’s game, Damon’s grand slam disappeared into the right field seats.
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The Celtics might not be the only history-makers
Also on Monday night, the Stars will try to push the Golden Knights to a Game 7 after going down 3-0 in the NHL’s Western Conference Finals.
Dallas looked very much dead in the water after a disastrous Game 3 loss that featured captain Jamie Benn getting ejected for a blatantly illegal cross-check that also resulted in a two-game suspension, goaltender Jake Oettinger getting pulled after allowing three goals in the game’s first 7:10 and fans at American Airlines Center throwing debris onto the ice, cutting the second period short and resulting in a team-issued apology.
Benn is now back in the fold following a 3-2 overtime win in Game 4 and a 4-2 win in Game 5 to send the series back to Dallas. A reverse sweep is not so unheard of in the NHL, which has seen the 1942 Leafs, 1975 Islanders, 2010 Flyers and 2014 Kings all do so.
The Stars are not going to be an easy out here, particularly with Game 6 on home ice. Outside of Game 3, they have not been thoroughly outplayed in the series, losing the first two games in overtime, the expected goals metrics show an advantage to Dallas at five-on-five, and the momentum is in the Stars’ corner.
We just might get two shots at a reverse-sweep within a few days.
Is this the Alcaraz era?
Carlos Alcaraz already has a major championship to his name after winning the US Open last year. He starts the French Open on Monday against Flavio Cobolli as the No. 1 overall seed and the favorite over Novak Djokovic after making the quarterfinals at Roland Garros last year.
Alcaraz, who first achieved the top ranking in the world following in the US Open final last year, comes to Paris off an upset loss at the Italian Open’s second round to Hungarian Fabian Marozsan, but with a clay court tournament win in hand from Madrid before that. His game is well-suited to the surface, and Rafael Nadal — this tournament’s serial winner for almost two decades — is not competing this year.
It is a chance to make a statement, and to continue making his name — if he can seize it.
What you need to know from the Premier League’s final day
Leicester City’s drop from champions to Championship in a seven-year span was confirmed in the last game of the Premier League season on Sunday.
The drama on Sunday was all at the bottom of the table, with Manchester City having sewn up the title a couple weeks ago and Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United having secured top-four positions with a game to spare.
The suspense came in the final two relegation slots, with Everton, Leicester City and Leeds United all at risk of falling to the second division, with Southampton’s fate sealed in the run-up.
Within two minutes of the games simultaneously kicking off, Leeds were doomed, going down and eventually losing when they needed not just to win, but to get some help to stay up. That consigns a club that had been fortuitous to Americans — employing Jesse Marsch as manager for an extended spell with Weston McKennie, Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams in midfield — to the second division. (Marsch was fired earlier this season, Adams and Aaronson could be sold in the transfer window; McKennie could be sold by Juventus, which had loaned him to Leeds).
For much of the afternoon, it looked like Everton — the club that controlled its own fate — would be going down. Leicester took the lead in their game against West Ham and had control throughout, while Everton — a club that had not been in the second division since 1954 — struggled to break through against Bournemouth.
It was a strike of lightning from Abdoulaye Doucoure, a volleyed goal on 57 minutes that secured an eventual 1-0 victory for Everton that instead relegated Leicester. The Foxes pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of sports in 2016 by winning the league as a 5,000/1 underdog and fought for Champions League places as recently as 2020.
But walking the tightrope posed by being a smaller club in an economically demanding landscape finally started to catch up to them in recent years. And Leicester were finally pulled under on Sunday.