While LeBron James and Steph Curry evoke great rivalries of ages past like Bird-Johnson, there are more sellers than ever looking to make money on the historic matchup than see it in person.
At an average price of $1,840, NBA Finals prices are up almost 25 percent from Cavaliers-Warriors I, which the Warriors in six game. Compared to last year, though, prices are down 35 percent in Golden State and 4 percent in Cleveland.
But lined up against last season’s Finals, which the Cavs won dramatically in seven games, the amount of tickets available for sale in Cleveland has almost doubled.
Two days until tip off, there are $8 million worth of tickets available for sale to the games in Cleveland, an increase of 82% from last year. In Golden State, the total size of the market at Oracle Arena is over $30 million, only a 12% increase from last season.
Despite LeBron’s status as the best in the game, Golden State’s favorable odds to win the series may be at the root of Cleveland’s selling state of mind.
For Cleveland fans, it would not be the first time they decided to sell based on dim prospects for success. Between the 6th inning of game six in the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and Indians, the price for game 7 tickets plummeted, as Indians fans decided it was time to take money off the table and watch from home. Cubs fans happily filled the void, and if the Cavaliers stumble in games one and two, the same could happen.
According the Priceline.com, the cheapest flight from San Francisco to Cleveland for Game 4 is $134, which would make the ‘all-in’ cost about half the price of seeing a clinching game at Oracle Arena.
Low demand has been a signature of the 2017 NBA playoffs, and over the first three rounds, only one team had their cheapest ticket above $100: The Warriors. By contrast, every team in the NHL playoffs had at least one game where the cheapest ticket cost more than $100.
Even in a sports-mad city like Boston, the inevitability of a Cleveland Eastern Conference championship kept prices for the Conference Finals in Boston at mid-season levels. When the Warriors became the first team in NBA history to win twelve consecutive games in the playoffs, it only reinforced the reality that no one else had a shot.
When LeBron made his now infamous Decision in 2010, the prevailing wisdom was that, without a big three, winning in the NBA wasn’t possible. Since then, several other big three teams have been constructed. None have been able to match LeBron’s firepower in either Miami or Cleveland until the Warriors cobbled together Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and now Kevin Durant.
With two Super powers now firmly established, the question is now, When will it end?
When the 2017 NBA Finals begins Thursday night, it will be the first time in NBA history that the same teams faced each other three years in a row. Statistically, that makes the probability of a fourpeat even lower. According to the New York Times, it’s a rarity in other leagues as well, and something not seen since the 1950s, when the Canadiens and Red Wings achieved triptych dominance in the NHL between ‘54 and ‘56.
In the last year of the Canadiens-Red Wings three-peat, the NHL had six teams. That same season, the NBA had 8 teams. This year, the NBA had 30 teams, all with fans who spending millions to see their stars chase the ultimate prize. For all but two, it’s disappointing to know that it was nothing more than a lackluster warm-up for the real start of the season, which begins tomorrow night. Statistically speaking, it’s likely one of the two teams this season will make it back. For fans in Cleveland and San Francisco, that means it’s time to cash in on the greatest matchup in NBA history while they can.