By Marilen Cawad
New York Knicks legend Walt "Clyde" Frazier likes to use big words such as "tantalizing" and "percolating" when broadcasting Knicks games. Tantalizing -- or teasingly out of reach -- seems like the perfect word to describe Knicks tickets today.
According to ticket search engine TiqIQ, the average ticket price for the first round of the playoffs between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden is $645. Last year, when the Knicks went up against the Miami Heat in the opening round series, the average ticket price was $378.
Limited playoff tickets were sold through Ticketmaster, beginning April 11, but most tickets for Knicks home games are now available only through resellers. Game one of the Knicks' playoff series with the Celtics will start at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, with the cheapest ticket being sold at $187.
"With the Knicks doing so well this season, getting tickets at face value is not an option for most," says Jesse Lawrence, founder and CEO of TiqIQ. Resellers include both fans looking to make extra money as well as brokers.
Lawrence says renovations at Madison Square Garden have contributed to the increase in primary playoff ticket prices. Still, the most important factor in Knicks ticket pricing today is the team's overall performance.
For the first time since 1994, the Knicks are Atlantic Division champions and they have locked in the No. 2 playoff seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference. Carmelo Anthony is the top scorer in the league, and he's also having his best season as a Knick.
Leading up to the playoffs, Knicks tickets have been steadily increasing in the secondary market. The average ticket price rose about 30 percent from $330 in December to $428 in April. In the 2011-12 season, the average ticket price for a Knicks game was $282. Based on TiqIQ's most recent data, the New York Knicks now sell the most expensive tickets in the NBA.
As the Knicks win, ticket prices will just continue to go up. If the team advances to the semi-final round, fans could expect to pay $1,100 on average per ticket. Should the Knicks go all the way to the NBA finals, the average ticket price is $2,900.
Whether or not the Knicks reach the NBA finals, ticket prices for their games next season are going to spike. Madison Square Garden has announced that season ticket prices will increase by an average of 6.4 percent for the 2013-14 season.
With ticket prices soaring, what's a Knicks fan to do? Alison Salcedo, a spokeswoman at ticket reseller StubHub, an eBay company, says do what other fans have done in the past -- see the Knicks outside of Madison Square Garden.
"Occasionally we will see buyers purchase tickets out-of-state if, for instance, they make a weekend trip out of it and get a good deal." Salcedo says she has seen fans do this during the playoffs when it's relatively easy and affordable to make road trips to games.
According to TiqIQ data, the cheapest ticket price for the first playoff game between the Knicks and the Celtics at TD Garden in Boston is $69. That is 170 percent cheaper than the get-in price in New York.
If traveling to away games is not an option, Salcedo says it's a good idea sometimes to wait to the very last minute before buying tickets. Individual sellers who are suddenly unable to make it to Madison Square Garden may decide to list their tickets for sale at a very low price or at a loss.
"If a fan is looking to buy one or just a pair of tickets, generally, prices drop as the event day/time gets closer," Salcedo says. "So as long as they watch the prices, they could potentially get a great deal. For larger groups, tickets in multiples are harder to find closer to game time."
At TiqIQ, fans have three options to buy tickets: Fixed Price, Auctions and Make an Offer deals. If the seller is willing to negotiate, a "make an offer" button will be clickable on the page. All other deals have a "buy" button.
Ticket prices will also largely depend on how the series plays out. Although fans would most certainly love to see the Knicks sweep their opponents, Lawrence at TiqIQ says, they should consider buying tickets now for contingent games.
"Clinching games at home tend to rise once they become necessary," Lawrence says. TiqIQ and StubHub guarantee full refunds for playoff games that do not take place.