After the Cavaliers defeated the 73-9 Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, many speculated how a third straight meeting between the two would fare. Once the Warriors added Kevin Durant in the offseason and the Cavs kept their core intact while adding names like Deron Williams, Derrick Williams and Kyle Korver prior to the postseason, it was almost a foregone conclusion the two powerhouses of the NBA would meet for their rubber match in 2017.
And with that, fans waited and waited and waited as the two squads tore through their respective conferences, and this Thursday will finally tip-off what’s expected to be the first competitive series either team has faced in the 2017 playoffs.
This perceived lack of competition has greatly affected the ticket market this season, as fans for each team simply saved their money for the impending NBA Finals, resulting in both the Cavaliers and Warriors showcasing record low prices for the playoffs. According to TicketIQ, the average price for the Cavaliers over the first 3 rounds was $188, a 29 percent decrease from 2016 ($265) and a 40 percent decrease from 2015 ($314). Meanwhile the Warriors average price over the first 3 rounds was $497, a 21 percent decrease from 2016 ($632) and a 5 percent decrease from 2015 ($524).
Further evidence is the more robust ticket market for the NBA Finals than the previous two years. There’s currently over 20,000 tickets on the secondary market for the 2017 Finals compared to 16,000 for 2016 and 12,000 for 2015. Prices have seen a significant cut, with them being the lowest for each team of the past 3 seasons. The cheapest ticket for Game 1 at Oracle Arena is currently $431, more than 35 percent cheaper than 2016’s least expensive ticket ($665) and 27 percent cheaper than 2015’s ($594). Meanwhile the cheapest seat at Quicken Loans Arena is $303, a 10 percent drop from 2016 and 7 percent from 2015.
Luckily for fans, the travel market is also quite affordable. According to information provided by Priceline.com, the cheapest available hotel (minimum 2.5 stars) in the Bay Area during the finals is $74/night, while the cheapest in Cleveland is just $53/night.
There’s also similarly fair pricing on air travel, as flights from Cleveland to San Francisco and flights from San Francisco to Cleveland are available from $134.
Minimum all-in pricing for a Cleveland fan traveling to Golden State is $639 ($431 ticket, $134 flight, $74 hotel). That number is LESS than the cheapest ticket for a Finals game at Golden State last season ($665). Meanwhile, all-in pricing for a Warriors fan traveling to Cleveland is $490 ($303 ticket, $134 flight, $53 hotel), once again over $150 cheaper than the least expensive Finals ticket at Golden State last season.
Fans may have played a dangerous game by saving their chips for an NBA Finals cashout, but with a favorable ticket market and affordable clearly the gamble payed off.