The Atlanta Hawks are used to it by now. They know that it's not only the so-called experts that are doubting the character of Atlanta's basketball team. The same skepticism comes from the public, too.
And after proving the critics wrong in their first-round upset against the Orlando Magic, Vegas still isn't convinced that this Hawks team is for real.
The Hawks have been installed as nine-point underdogs in their Game 1 matchup against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, according to vegasinsiders.com. However, that number shouldn't come as a surprise to many who know a thing or two about sports betting.
Orlando was a 3-1 favorite to win their first round matchup against the Hawks and was favored to win each of the six games played -- including the three played on Atlanta's home court. In fact, the opening line for Game 1 of the Orlando-Atlanta series was not much different than the line posted for Game 1 vs. Chicago.
Sportsbook.com has the Hawks as huge underdogs in their best-of-seven series against the Bulls. As of midday Friday, Chicago was roughly a 12-1 favorite, with a $1200 bet on the Bulls returning you a whopping $100. The Hawks were +700 on the money line.
Atlanta continues to get zero respect to do much of anything on the court.
The Hawks are an NBA-worst 35-1 dog to win the NBA title on Sportsbook.com, 50-1 on bodog.com and a 100-1 shot on Vegasinsiders.com. Their chances of even coming down with an Eastern Conference crown? 10-1 according to Sportsbook.com.
To a man, the Hawks really don't care what the critics, or the public thinks.
"That doesn't bother us," Hawks forward Marvin Williams said after Atlanta's series-clinching 84-81 win over Orlando in Game 6 on Thursday. "Nobody has to believe in ourselves but ourselves. At the end of the day, that's all that matters."
It's worth noting that the Hawks belief in themselves has turned into cold-hard-cash for those who believed, too. Atlanta was 5-1 against the spread and 4-2 straight in their first round matchup against the Magic, spreading joy on the faces of those who believed in Vegas.
For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hub, Peachtree Hoops, Blog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.