Assessing value in NBA playoff tickets

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
John McDonnell | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

The NBA playoffs are underway, and with that come inflated ticket prices.

If you're going for price point in buying NBA playoff tickets, you can't beat the Indiana Pacers, whose 18,000-seat arena gives fans the chance to see the team at the low, low price of $123 a game. Sure, that's not that cheap, but it's an average price you'd pay on the secondary market, according to TiqIQ.

But the Pacers have a dismal 500-to-1 shot at winning the championship, according to odds from VegasInsider. So is it really worth it? Looking at the relative value of the secondary-market tickets at home games to a given team's talent and combining those average ticket prices and a team's odds of winning shows a performance-adjusted value index for each team.

Think of it as a way to evaluate the risk factor for buying tickets and attending a game. For the consumer, a lower figure is better.

Lebron James' Cleveland Cavaliers are far and away the best deal when accounting for talent. That means that with an average ticket price at $158 and odds of 16-to-5, the Cavs offer the best chance to see a winning team with minimal monetary outlay in advance.

The San Antonio Spurs, too, are a solid choice for performance-adjusted ticket prices.

The Golden State Warriors have had a record season and fans have been paying through the nose for a chance to see Steph Curry lead the team to a championship. But Curry left a game Sunday with a sprained knee and likely won't return this season. Some betting sites now favor the Spurs to win the title.

Still, the team is clearly a contender with or without Curry. Tickets to their home games are pricey — at an average of over $480, it's the highest in this round of the playoffs. But their odds of winning put them in the top three in terms of value.

The Warriors aren't the only team with an essential player out on the DL. The Clippers also lost their point guard Chris Paul when he left the game Monday with a broken bone in his right hand. The Clippers' odds weren't great to begin with, but they dropped further after reports of Paul's injury, and when teammate Blake Griffin was pulled for the season with an aggravated left quad.

The injuries cut the Clippers' odds of winning significantly and moved them to the lowest spot in the value index. The Houston Rockets had the worst performance-adjusted deal, until they were eliminated Wednesday night in a 114-81 loss to the Warriors.

The Charlotte Hornets and Portland Blazers won on Wednesday night and both moved within a game of reaching the conference semifinals.