For most of the NBA season, the Indiana Pacers dominated the competition on the court. Despite finishing the season with the best record in the Eastern Conference after a late season slide, the Pacers spent the entire season towards the bottom of the league for average ticket price on the secondary market. Indiana was only 15th in the NBA for total attendance during the regular season, but while the arena has been filled for playoff games, the prices on the secondary market haven't risen at a similar rate.
While there is a high premium for Pacers playoff tickets -- 33.91 percent above the team's regular season average price -- the average price of $178.12 is the lowest for any playoff teams. Over the past four seasons, it's also the lowest average price for any top seed in the Eastern Conference. In fact, the Pacers are the first Eastern Conference No. 1 seed to have an average price below $200 since TiqIQ has been tracking data. Last year's top seed in the East, the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat, had an average secondary market price of $257.35. The Pacers are not the only team where price does not seem to be driven by seeding. The sixth-seeded Warriors currently have the highest priced tickets in the playoffs this year.
While cheap tickets for a top seed in the East are a rarity, it's not an uncommon fact in the Western Conference. Two past number one Western conference seeds in the NBA Playoffs had a lower average price for home playoff games than this year's Pacers. Both of those teams were the San Antonio Spurs. In 2010-11, the Spurs were four games better than the No. 2 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference, but had an average playoff price on the secondary market of $104.05 in the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies. The next year in the lockout-shortened season, the Spurs finished three games above the next best team in the West, but the price for Spurs playoff tickets were by far the lowest of any playoff team. For the first round series against the Utah Jazz, the average price was just $83.96 on the secondary market, the cheapest No. 1 seed TiqIQ has ever recorded.
San Antonio, like the 2014 Indiana team, had one of the cheapest regular season averages in the league that season at just $74.60. Despite a paltry playoff premium of just 12.5 percent for the first round, the price of Spurs tickets that year increased as the team advanced further in the playoffs. In their second-round sweep against the Los Angeles Clippers, the average price rose 43 percent from the previous round to an average of $120.09. After advancing, the average price rose another 121.8 percent from Round 2 to $266.34 for the Western Conference Finals match-up against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It would not be unreasonable to assume the Pacers could follow a similar trend this postseason. For Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks, it will only cost $8 on the secondary market to get into Bankers Life Fieldhouse; that could be one of the last times on the Pacers playoff schedule tickets will be that cheap. With a third home game now likely after Indiana's Game 1 loss, there could be at least two more opportunities for cheap Pacers tickets. Getting past the Hawks and into the second round should bring the price of secondary market tickets in Indiana more on par with the other remaining teams.
For a real-time view of NBA playoff prices and premiums, check out the TiqIQ blog.