Archive for the ‘Hawks/NBA’ Category

Heat Check: Dogs and Falcons are smokin’; Tech’s a-mopin’

Who's sitting pretty now? Alexander Ogletree, for one. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Who's sitting pretty now? Alexander Ogletree, for one. His team, for another. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Our weekly Heat Check was set back a day due to logistics (delayed-but-thankfully-not-canceled flight from Philadelphia on Sunday night), fatigue (mine) and breaking news (Dan Radakovich). But we’re up and running again. And we begin with:

GEORGIA: The Bulldogs won the game they had to win. (Some nut predicted as much, I do believe.) They’re exactly where I expected them to be, albeit not quite in the manner I expected. The question now becomes: Can they beat Alabama/LSU? Forecast: The same nut who liked Georgia to beat Florida sees no reason why the Bulldogs can’t give the West champ a run in the Dome come Dec. 1.

FALCONS: I put a 50 percent premium on road victories. (Even a lousy team, I figure, can luck out at home.) Sunday’s performance under ominous skies in a city that has never been kind to the Falcons was the most impressive regular-season road victory I’ve …

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Heat Check: UGA isn’t exactly the hot choice in Jacksonville

Mark Richt poses with the only Gator coach against whom he has a winning record. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Mark Richt with the only Gator against whom he has a winning record. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

The weekly Heat Check commences with a team that frankly didn’t look so hot Saturday night. But you’ve got to start somewhere.

GEORGIA: Picked in preseason to repeat as SEC East champs, the Bulldogs are a 6 1/2 point underdog to Florida on what is technically a neutral field. This tells us that the Gators have had the more impressive season to date, but you knew that already. Forecast: This doesn’t mean Georgia can’t win. On the contrary, how many times have the Bulldogs gone to Jacksonville with the better-looking team and lost?

FALCONS: Didn’t lose for the seventh consecutive Sunday. (Ha! Little joke!) But now the schedule gets intriguing, if not necessarily untenable. The next four opponents: Philadelphia (3-3), Dallas (3-3), New Orleans (2-4) and Arizona (4-3). Forecast: Win three of those four and the Falcons are looking at the NFC’s No. 1 seed come the playoffs. Win ‘em all and …

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Heat Check: Falcons are unbeaten; Georgia State’s on a roll!

Sean Weatherspoon leads cheers: "Our team is red hot!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon leads the cheers: "Our team is red hot!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Truth in advertising: This week’s Heat Check isn’t the most scintillating, given that the bulk of our local teams didn’t actually play. But we press on nonetheless.

FALCONS: They’re the only NFL unbeaten remaining, and here I offer the boldest prediction of my so-called career — they won’t lose next Sunday, either. Forecast: They’ve got a bye, and they could use one to refocus and recalibrate. When you’re 6-0, there’s obviously nothing grievously amiss. But the past three games weren’t nearly as emphatic as the first three.

GEORGIA STATE: The Panthers won a game! And won it big! Thank goodness for Rhode Island! Thank goodness Bill Curry won’t ride off into the sunset on an 0-11 nag of a season! Forecast: OK, back to reality. They play 5-2 Villanova in the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

GEORGIA: The Bulldogs got what they wanted even as they weren’t playing. South Carolina lost to …

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A chilly Heat Check: Bad losses, bad behavior, bad times

Visual verification that happy days aren't here again. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We offer visual verification that happy days aren't here again. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We begin our weekly Heat Check by noting that the Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise annals and that the Hawks opened their exhibition season by beating the reigning NBA champs, and then we turn to more dire matters. Which is to say, everything else in local sports.

GEORGIA: Played its biggest game of the season and lost by 28 points, and that only after what even the head coach conceded was a “consolation” touchdown. Linebacker Christian Robinson took to Twitter to report that the house he shares with quarterback Aaron Murray had been “egged and rolled.” Chill Factor: There have been more depressing weekends in the long history of Georgia football, but not many.

BRAVES: Played its biggest game of the postseason and made three errors that generated four unearned runs, thereby ensuring that this would be their only game of the postseason. Also messed up a strange safety …

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Heat Check: Braves lose the NL East; Falcons haven’t lost

If you're not going to win something, the division title is the thing not to win. (AP photo)

Well, if you're not going to win something, the division title is the thing not to win. (AP photo)

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 …

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So the remade Hawks won’t be as good? Hold that thought

For the record, both these guys are still here. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Just for the record, both these worthies are still around. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Maybe we’ve got it wrong. Most of us figure the Hawks won’t be as good next season without Joe Johnson — they’re also without Marvin Williams, which seems more reason for optimism — and that not being as good is something new GM Danny Ferry is willing to accept in the short term. (One step back to take two steps forward, et cetera.) But now comes a stunningly rosy forecast that projects the new-look Hawks to …

(Pause for effect.)

Finish second in the NBA East.

It comes from Basketball Prospectus by way of ESPN Insider (link requires registration). According to BP, the Hawks will win 48.7 games, putting them behind only Miami in their conference. (Well behind, we should note. The projection is that the Heat will will win 60.5 games.) Behind the Hawks, BP slots the Knicks, the Celtics, the Bulls, the Pacers, the Nets and the 76ers.

Writes Bradford Doolittle of BP: “The Hawks’ offense without …

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Heat Check: Hot Braves, cold Honey Badger, a final #NBCfail

The Honey Badger will not be playing in the Dome on Dec. 1. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The Honey Badger will not be playing in the Dome on Dec. 1. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Our weekly Heat Check begins with baseball’s hottest team, and no, I don’t mean the Mets.

BRAVES: On July 5, the day the season’s second half officially began, manager Fredi Gonzalez assessed his team’s first half as “just OK.” They’re 24-9 since. They went 4-2 last week but managed to slide 4 1/2 games behind Washington, which went 6-1. Which leads us to say: No big deal.

There are two wild cards this season. Even if there were only one, the Braves are two games ahead of Pittsburgh, and the Pirates probably won’t hold up much longer. Baseball Prospectus gives the Braves only a 17.1 percent chance of winning the National League East but a 91.1 percent chance of making the playoffs.

The rest of August will be intriguing. Over the next 2 1/2 weeks, the Braves will play three games in Washington, three here against the Dodgers, four against the Giants and seven (four here, three there) …

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Heat Check: Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Tech, UGA – all HOT!

"Our team is red hot! Our team is red hot!" (AP photo by David Tulis)

"Our team is red hot! (Clap, clap.) Our team is red hot!" (AP photo by David Tulis)

Today we offer the (long-deferred if not necessarily long-awaited) return of the Monday Heat Check, in which we take the figurative temperature of our local sporting entities. And, in keeping with climatic conditions, I must note that every team is HOT!HOT!HOT!

BRAVES: They haven’t lost in a week, and the week ahead looks most inviting. They’re home for four games against the Marlins, who have given up, and three against the Astros, who snapped a 12-game losing slide Sunday and are the worst team in baseball by some distance.

And there’s every chance the Braves will make a trade by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Zack Greinke is gone to Anaheim, and the Braves claim to have moved on from their pursuit of reluctant Ryan Dempster, but I’m not convinced that ship has sailed. There’s no reason for the Cubs to keep Dempster — they’re not going to re-sign him — and the Dodgers’ offer hasn’t been convincing. (If it …

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Dwight Howard has become a bigger meanie than LeBron

He's all smiles. The city named on his jersey is less sunny. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

He's all smiles. The city named on his jersey is less sunny. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This could all be moot within an hour of its writing, but here goes: What happens if Dwight Howard doesn’t get traded?

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel believes the thought of Howard actually playing for the Magic in 2012-13 “would be like LeBron making ‘The Decision’ and then having to go play another season in Cleveland.” But the way Howard is heading, any LeBron James comparison becomes increasingly inapt.

LeBron never demanded to be traded. LeBron never handed the Cavaliers a list of desired destinations. (Apparently Howard’s list begins and ends with Brooklyn.) More to the point, LeBron never prolonged any civic agony by waiving his option to become a free agent. Howard did that in March, and nobody could believe it. Today it ranks as the strangest decision ever made by a major player regarding his career.

All Howard had to do was let his contract expire and he’d have officially …

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Ferry on his remade Hawks: ‘Status quo wasn’t good enough’

Danny Ferry has made this a brand new ballgame. (AP photo by David Goldman)

New GM Danny Ferry has made this a whole new ballgame. (AP photo by David Goldman)

The Hawks had two choices: They could have kept what they had and continued to get the same results, or they could have done as Danny Ferry did. So long as the Core Four was intact, this organization had both a floor and a ceiling. The Hawks would be too talented to stink, too mismatched to win a championship.

Said Ferry, speaking Wednesday night: “The status quo wasn’t going to be good enough to reach our goals, and we weren’t even going to be able to sustain that.”

That’s a brutally accurate description of the Hawks before this general manager took hold of them. And where are they now, 2 1/2 weeks and two major trades later? Ferry again: “We’re in a situation where we made some changes, and hopefully going forward we can be more opportunistic — hopefully better and more sustainable.”

Thing is, “going forward” isn’t synonymous with “here and now,” and we live in an age where gratification …

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