It hasn't been easy for the defending champion Golden State Warriors in this season's NBA playoffs. But it will be nearly impossible for pro basketball fans to secure reasonably priced tickets to see them against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last season's final.
Those fans who want to attend the finals will pay massive premiums for tickets on the secondary market -- potentially more than $2000 per ticket by the end of the series.
That's because the series promises to be among the most intriguing in recent memory. The Warriors set a record for regular-season victories, but Cleveland has played its best basketball during the playoffs, largely by adopting Golden State's crowd-pleasing style. Cleveland even received criticism throughout the Eastern conference playoffs for shooting too much.
In addition, the matchup will feature the NBA's two brightest stars, the Warriors' shooting maestro Stephen Curry and the Cavaliers' remarkable Lebron James. It will be James's sixth consecutive trip to an NBA final, including four times with the Miami Heat.
According to online aggregator TiqIQ, the average resale price for tickets to this year's championship series is now $1,582.38. Last year's Warriors-Cavs finals recorded an average price of $1,486.75 across six games.
Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday night at Oracle Arena. It will be the cheapest game to attend in Oakland, with the get-in price for Warriors Finals tickets starting from $618. It will be the only finals game in the Bay Area that averages below $1,500. Game 2 on Sunday owns a secondary market average of $1,541.92 and a $743 get-in price.
Should the series extend to game 5 back in Oakland on June 13, ticket prices will exceed the $1,700 average on the secondary market. The cheapest ticket to that game is now $891. A potential game 7 could be the most expensive finals game ever recorded at an average resale price of $2,391.28 and $1,236 get-in price.
Ticket prices will be slightly lower 2,500 miles east in Cleveland. Game 3 on June 8 is currently the least expensive game of the series, with Cavaliers Finals tickets averaging $939.84 and the cheapest ticket listed from $362. It is the only game of this year's finals to fall below the $1,000 average.
Game 4 two days later will jump marginally, averaging a $1,042.72 ticket and $435 get-in price. If the series reaches game 6 on June 16, it will be the most expensive game in Cleveland at an average resale price of $1,609.47 and the cheapest ticket priced at $675.
If the finals are anything like the Warriors' Western Conference final against the Thunder, fans will have a lot to savor. The Warriors rebounded by a three games to one margin to overcome the athletic Thunder. They trailed Oklahoma in the second half of the sixth and seventh games before they found their range with their 3-point shooting.
Golden State won 73 games to eclipse the NBA record 72 wins of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. They won the franchise's fourth NBA title by defeating Cleveland last year in six games. Cleveland has yet to win a championship, something that James has been targeting since returning to his home town nearly two years ago after leaving Miami.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held TK positions in the stocks mentioned.