SAN ANTONIO - OCTOBER 09: LeBron James #6, Dwayne Wade #3, and Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat sit on the bench during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center on October 9, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
LeBron James is coming to town, Georgia and Kentucky find themselves in the exact same boat, the Falcons look to bounce back at home, and the Buffalo Sabres are ticked off about their schedule in our preview of the week ahead in Atlanta sports.
Atlanta Braves vs. the Payroll: The Braves begin their team organizational meetings in Florida (as this amazingly comprehensive blog post by the AJC’s David O’Brien details) in an effort to begin plugging the holes that were exposed in 2010. No discussion of "Braves" and "holes" would be complete without talking about Brooks Conrad, but, oddly enough, he’s not mentioned in the post.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic: The Magic come back to town for the first time since treating the Hawks like a developmental league team in the second round of last season’s playoffs. Neither team made any significant upgrade during the off-season, unless you count Larry Drew. But unless Larry Drew can score 24 points (the average margin of victory for the Magic in last season’s seven Hawks losses) expect the Hawks to cower away like Mister Coach Klein in the presence of Red Beaulieu in "The Waterboy."
Atlanta Thrashers vs. Buffalo Sabres: The Thrashers have won three of their first five games. They’ll look to build on that trend when the Sabres come down for a visit. The Sabres make two trips to Atlanta this season and they’re both within 10 days of each other. They can’t be happy about the schedule making here. Their only two chances to come to the sunny south and get out of the Arctic hell of a Buffalo winter get wasted in October. This could play to the Thrashers’ advantage.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat: The Miami Heat are bringing their talents to Atlanta for one night. This should be interesting. If the Hawks can’t even compete against the Magic, who have Dwight Howard, an old Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis as their big three, what will the trio of Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh do to them?
Georgia at Kentucky: When these two teams show up on the hoops schedule in January this match-up might actually mean something. In football? Not so much. Georgia is mathematically still in the race for the SEC East championship, which has been the talk of the town after convincing home wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt. But you know who else is mathematically still in the race? Kentucky.
But let’s get this clear. A knowledge of mathematics does not always coincide with a grasp on reality. Georgia was horrible for four weeks. Beating two horrible-er teams at home does not make you a contender. So everyone just calm down and repeat after me. Georgia is not going to the SEC championship game.
And how bummed out would everyone be if after all the shenanigans that have taken place in the first six weeks of the season, Florida and Alabama (two teams that fully control their own destiny) end up back in the SEC title game?
Georgia Tech at Clemson: Tech hasn’t lost to Clemson since 2006. Which is a little surprising because these two teams are strikingly similar in terms of where they traditionally sit in the ACC pecking order – always hanging around the top, not quite capable of becoming consistently elite (notwithstanding Tech’s ACC championship last season).This could be the year that Clemson breaks the skid, which means that they'll be at least one more game over mediocre at the end of the year.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals: The Falcons return home licking their wounds from the beat-down they received in Philadelphia. But the last time the Falcons played a less-than-impressive game on the road (against Pittsburgh) they came home the next week and pounded Arizona into the Georgia Dome field turf. The opening line for the Falcons-Bengals game was Falcons minus-4.5. If I were a betting man, I’d put all my money on the Falcons, then strip down and sell my shorts to a homeless guy and take the MARTA token he gives me and put that on them too. And, yes, my shorts are only worth a MARTA token.