Knicks’ Resale Demand for Clincher Is Low as Fans Seek More Wins

NY Knicks Player J.R. Smith
New York Knicks player J.R. Smith rejoices after hitting a three pointer at the buzzer, ending the first quarter of a game against the Boston Celtics. Photographer: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tickets to the New York Knicks’ possible first playoff series-clinching win at Madison Square Garden in 14 years are a relative bargain as their fans’ playoff expectations rise.

The Knicks hold a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven first-round meeting with the Boston Celtics and can close it out tomorrow night in New York. The average resale ticket price is $555.82, according to the secondary market ticket aggregator TiqIQ.

While that’s the priciest of any National Basketball Association postseason game so far this year, the least expensive tickets, at $155, are going for about $15 less than they were at the same point prior to Game 2 at the Garden. There are also more than 4,000 tickets available the day before tipoff, meaning fans wanting to see a series clincher at home may find good deals on game day, according to Chris Matcovich, a spokesman for New York-based TiqIQ.

“I think these numbers show that Knicks fans are looking ahead to the next round a bit,” Matcovich said in an e-mail. “This tends to lead me to believe that prices might drop more as game approaches, with fans unwilling to spend $150-plus now, thinking that there are more playoff games ahead.”

New York hasn’t won a playoff series since 2000, when it beat the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat, wrapping up both on the road before falling to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.

Last Time

The Knicks’ last series-clinching win at home was on June 11, 1999, when they beat Indiana 90-82 in Game 6 to advance to the NBA Finals. Allan Houston scored 32 points and Latrell Sprewell added 20 for New York, while Pacers guard Reggie Miller was held to eight points on 3-of-18 shooting. The Knicks were beaten in five games by the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.

If New York gets by the Celtics, it will face either the Pacers or Atlanta Hawks, who are tied at 2-2.

With the New York Rangers qualifying the for the National Hockey League playoffs, it’s the third straight year both Madison Square Garden Co. tenants reached the postseason.

Laura Martin, a Needham & Co. analyst who has a “buy” rating on MSG shares, said the company’s teams break even during the regular season and generate about $5 million per postseason level they reach.

“Essentially, owning a sports team is an option to get into the playoffs and make money,” Martin said in a telephone interview.

Needham raised its target price for MSG shares to $66 from $55 on April 25 as MSG drew closer to completing its $1 billion arena renovation, which lowers risk and increases free cash flow, Martin said. Shares of MSG were up $1.84 to $59.81 at 12:20 p.m.

“It’s very hard to put these into the models ahead of time because it’s so hard to predict how far they’ll go in the playoffs,” Martin said in a phone interview. “The further they get, the more the earnings estimates have to rise upwards.”

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