The regular Monday Heat Check was delayed because of logistics. It arrives today, and we can only hope that absence really did make the heart grow fonder.
BRAVES: They can’t catch Washington. They were eliminated from the divisional chase last night. That’s a disappointment, but — speaking of logistics — it might not be the worst thing in the world. The thought of having to play a division tiebreaker in D.C. on Thursday and then, if they were to lose, play the wild card elimination game here on Friday and then, if they were to win, start the best-of-five NLDS here on Sunday was rather daunting, not to to mention confusing. Forecast: The play-in game is a coin flip, but if the Braves prevail — and Kris Medlen hasn’t lost since May 23, 2010 — they’ll be a tough out. And I say that knowing full well they managed only two hits against Pittsburgh on Monday.
FALCONS: You can’t really quibble with 4-0. (Well, maybe you can. I can’t.) And they seem to have the figurative wind at their backs: Pat Yasinskas of ESPN reports that their surge to the climactic field goal against Carolina marked only the fourth time in the past 20 years that a team has fashioned a game-winning drive that started inside its 5-yard line with under two minutes to play. Forecast: A testing game awaits in Washington, but this is the NFL. They’re all testing games. And the Falcons are favored.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs played somebody last weekend and won. I forget who. They play somebody else this Saturday. I forget who. Forecast: South Carolina is favored by a field goal. I figure the game goes one of two ways: The Gamecocks win close or the Bulldogs win big. Not really sure why I think that, but I do.
GEORGIA TECH: The Jackets played somebody last weekend, and they’d like to forget it ever happened. Forecast: Next up is Clemson in Death Valley, which some see as a wipeout-in-waiting. I’m not among those. To paraphrase what Bobby Knight said about Dale Brown: When you look up and see Dabo Swinney, you always feel you have a chance.
GEORGIA STATE: Lost to 0-4 William & Mary by 32 points to fall to 0-5. I would advise the Panthers not to think about scheduling Middle Tennessee. Forecast: Has a coach who has announced his retirement ever gotten fired before his exit date?
HAWKS: They opened training camp Monday, and they have a new look about them. This should be good in the long run. It could be good in the short run. It could also not be so good in the short run. Forecast: At this moment, the best small forward the organization has is 52 years old. His name is Dominique Wilkins.
DREAM: They had a chance to win their playoff series at Philips Arena on Sunday. In the grand tradition of the other Philips Arena tenant, they tripped over the moment. Forecast: They’ll try again tonight in Indiana, and they handled the Fever up there in Game 1. And yes, it’s a little disconcerting when the names of teams involved in a postseason series are “Fever” and “Dream.”
By Mark Bradley