Three times in the past 10 seasons and only five times in the NBA’s history, an 8-seed has upset a one-seed in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. This year, the Atlanta Hawks are on the verge of becoming the sixth to accomplish that feat. Atlanta will host the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 Thursday night with a 3-2 series lead. Even as the Hawks can come out of the game finishing off one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent years, fans wouldn’t be able to guess looking at the price of Atlanta Hawks playoff tickets.
But when it comes to the Hawks/Pacers, nothing should be surprising at this point. Just consider the numbers. The Pacers are the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, with a record of 56-26 and one of the top-ranked defenses in the league. The Hawks are the only sub-.500 team to make the Playoffs, with a 37-45 record and many questioning whether they even belonged in the Playoffs in the first place. After Atlanta had lost in the first round of the Playoffs the past two seasons, expectations for the Hawks weren’t too high even in Atalanta. The average price for Game 6 is on par with the series averages in their past two playoff trips, which both had around a $130 average price.
The Hawks have answered those questions loudly and decisively. With different players stepping up to lead the team at different times, Atlanta starters Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver have been backed by solid bench play from the likes of Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott, the latter of whom led the team with 20 points in the Hawks’ lopsided victory over Indiana in Game 5. In that game, Atlanta went on a torrid 30-6 run in the second quarter to put the game away by building a deficit from which the Pacers could not recover. Larry Bird put his face in his hands in disbelief. Hometown fans in Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse greeted their team with boos. It was the latest chapter in a late-season collapse that has left the Pacers in disarray and wondering what hit them.
Before the playoffs began, all the talk was of a Pacers-Heat rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals. This seemed more than logical, as the two teams were far and away the best two teams in the conference during the regular season, jockeying for number one positioning atop the Eastern Conference all season. This could still happen should the Pacers rally to win the next two games, although the team with the best home record in the NBA (35-6) has already dropped two at home.
Tickets for the Game 6 matchup at Philips Arena are down 34 percent in the last 24 hours, making it the cheapest of the three games played in Atlanta during the series. At an average price of $115.24 and a cheap get-in rate of just $42, Game 6 tickets are 14 percent below the $133.88 series average for games played in Atlanta. That average price is equal to about two average priced games on the Atlanta Braves schedule, but under the average of a regular season game on the Atlanta Falcons schedule.
Another surprising team in the first round, the Memphis Grizzlies, have seen a similar decrease in ticket prices for a possible series clincher at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Memphis Grizzlies playoff tickets have dropped 33 percent in the hours after defeating Oklahoma City in yet another overtime game. Memphis will also host Game 6 of that series on Thursday with a 3-2 lead and the possibility of upsetting to No. 2-seed Thunder.
If the first round of the Playoffs this year has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. The Hawks and Grizzlies have been two of the most surprising teams in the first round and will enter their respective Game 6’s with the most surprising ticket value.