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Playing Buy or Sell with Each NBA Team's Average Ticket Price

Daniel O'BrienChief Writer IVJanuary 17, 2017

Playing Buy or Sell with Each NBA Team's Average Ticket Price

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Forbes.com recently did a breakdown of every NBA team's average ticket price, so we played a little "Buy or Sell" to determine which teams were worth their prices.

    The prices ranged from $71.16 to $320.92. Not every affordably priced franchise was deemed worthwhile, and not every over-expensive ticket was dismissed.

    For the tickets we decided to pass on, we offered an alternative way to spend the money.

    Which teams are worth the price fans pay to get in the building? Find out as we assess each club's entertainment value and overall quality.

30. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $71.16

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    The lowest-priced average ticket in the Association belongs to one of the most interesting teams.

    With Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio finally healthy, along with a scoring boost from newcomer Kevin Martin, the Minnesota Timberwolves are suddenly an offensive force in the Western Conference.

    Rick Adelman's Wolves provide exceptional entertainment value, headlined by Rubio's passing skills and Love's versatility. The dynamic duo is primed to make some serious noise all year long, so jump on board while tickets are still reasonable.

    You could spend 70 bucks at the Mall of America and have plenty of fun, but the hottest show in the Twin Cities is undoubtedly at the Target Center.

29. Utah Jazz

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $72.24

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: A full day's worth of skiing at any of the four Ski Salt Lake resorts (ranging from $69-73).

     

    Don't worry. Within a year or two, the Utah Jazz will be more than worth their ticket prices.

    For now, they're the second-lowest-scoring team in the NBA as they try to groom a bunch of young talent. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are promising big men on the cusp of breaking out, and Gordon Hayward already is.

    Once Trey Burke gets into the swing of things and develops into a reliable starter, they could have the makings of a competitive squad.

    Unless the Jazz are hosting a top-flight opponent, their games could get ugly.

    Save the spending money for next year, when they'll be decidedly better, or enjoy some of the best skiing in the country. Your call.

28. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $74.86

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Instead of buying one Bucks ticket, buy four to the national Harley Davidson Museum (group of four costs $72).

     

    Some exciting, young pieces decorate the Milwaukee Bucks roster, but with injuries and massive offensive struggles plaguing the team, it's not exactly picturesque basketball.

    Larry Drew's outfit is mustering a mere 90.2 points per game, and with Larry Sanders and Brandon Knight sidelined, it won't be displaying its best stuff for a while. Even when they return, the Bucks are unlikely to push anyone around in the Central Division.

    Unfortunately for Milwaukee fans, this franchise is stuck in a self-inflicted cycle of mediocrity.

    If you can find discounted or nosebleed-level tickets on the cheap, then sure, the NBA action is worth it. But the average ticket price doesn't match the product.

27. Detroit Pistons

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    Allen Einstein/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $78.64

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    They might not be ready to hang with the likes of the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, but the Detroit Pistons can play a fun brand of hoops.

    In the frontcourt, Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe supply a phenomenal mix of explosiveness and skill. Drummond alone delivers fans countless "ooh's" and "aah's" with his leaping ability and rim-rocking power.

    Factor in Brandon Jennings' shifty playmaking prowess and Kentavious Caldwell Pope's surprising impact, and you've got a group that notches more than 100 points per contest.

    The jury is still out on its playoff hopes, but don't let that deter you from storming the Palace turnstiles.

26. Sacramento Kings

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    Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $82.31

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Holiday or New Year's Sacramento River Tours for two ($40 apiece).

     

    Despite DeMarcus Cousins' best efforts, the Sacramento Kings have floundered so far in 2013-14.

    Outside of DMC and Isaiah Thomas, Sac-town hasn't enjoyed any significant production, so it's been easily outdone by mediocre offensive squads.

    Everyone is still scrambling to figure out their exact role, and the team hasn't found any chemistry yet, so the Kings are simply not a reliable source of excitement.

25. Orlando Magic

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    Fernando Medina/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $84.23

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Treat someone to a full-day pass at Universal Studios ($84).

     

    The Orlando Magic are another marquee draftee or major free agent away from truly contending, and that's evident in their wildly inconsistent start.

    Jacque Vaughn's boys have already completed a three-game winning streak and a three-game losing streak, and unless Nikola Vucevic or Arron Afflalo goes off, they're probably going to lose.

    Victor Oladipo and Moe Harkless can only stir up so much excitement in Florida. They'll have to be patient if they want to see a packed Amway Center.

24. Indiana Pacers

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $85.03

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Currently holding the best record in the Eastern Conference and loaded for a championship run, the Indiana Pacers offer tremendous bang for your buck.

    Frank Vogel's squad isn't just a defensive-minded group that plods along from win to win. It has immense athleticism in Paul George and Lance Stephenson, playmaking punch from George Hill, and low-post offensive firepower in 7'2" behemoth Roy Hibbert and his sidekick David West.

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse is home to an MVP candidate, Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Coach of the Year candidate and (most importantly) an NBA title candidate.

    Would you rather pay $60 more to watch the Toronto Raptors? Didn't think so.

     

23. Washington Wizards

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    Ned Dishman/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $86.13

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Even though they're on a four-game skid, the Washington Wizards should be worth the trip to the Verizon Center in 2013-14.

    John Wall is blossoming into one of the best passers in the Eastern Conference, and his backcourt comrade, Bradley Beal, is equally impressive.

    Wall is struggling from the field, but he's making sure to get the ball to Beal, who is hot from long range.

    If the young duo can develop a rapport with Marcin Gortat, and the swingmen and forwards stay healthy, Washington will be a tough matchup for most of the East's middle tier.

22. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $87.23

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Weekend getaway to the Pocono Mountains (prices vary from $75 per night and upward).

     

    After a scintillating 3-0 start, the Philadelphia 76ers have come back down to Earth, losing seven of their last nine tilts. They're still more competitive than we envisioned, but they are probably headed for a high lottery pick.

    In between the Thaddeus Young dunks and the Evan Turner/Michael Carter-Williams plays, there will be a lot of growing pains in Philly. It's a young team that can't slow anyone down, and that's demoralizing to watch as a fan.

    The good news is that MCW shows brilliant potential, not to mention super-sophomore Tony Wroten. Alongside a healthy Nerlens Noel and a budding star in Turner, the two young guards could spark something special in the future. Add a star 2014 draft pick to the mix, and things get really interesting.

    Enjoy the Poconos now, because you won't want to be in the mountains when the Sixers put it all together.

21. New Orleans Pelicans

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    Average Ticket: $89.17

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Anthony Davis is one of those captivating breakout players who is a must-see this year.

    The New Orleans Pelicans are still trying to smoothly incorporate Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans into the fold, but Davis has blasted out of the gate with 20-10 numbers.

    An awe-inspiring blend of length, agility and instincts helps fuel his rapidly improving skill set. He's becoming a highly disruptive and effective defender while serving as a well-rounded offensive weapon for NOLA.

    With Eric Gordon, Holiday and Evans running the perimeter while Davis terrorizes opponents inside, the Pelicans will be fascinating in 2013-14, even if they don't quite make the playoffs.

20. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $92.78

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Terry Stott's Portland Trail Blazers have been lighting up the scoreboard en route to the upper tier of the Western Conference, as LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have spearheaded a winning culture.

    It's still too early in the season to tell where Rip City's ceiling is, but we know it's much stronger than the 33-49 squad we saw in 2012-13. Lillard has a year under his belt, Wesley Matthews is performing in a big way and the role players are pulling more weight.

    Two of the most crucial pieces to any successful club are a dual-threat point guard and an adept scoring big man. Portland has both of those components, and when it's supported by glue guys like Nicolas Batum and Matthews, the Moda Center gets electric.

19. Atlanta Hawks

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $93.20

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    In most years, there is a lot of good football to be watched in Atlanta and the greater Georgia area, but in the middle of the week, the Atlanta Hawks are a great show.

    Jeff Teague is directing traffic and distributing the ball like an upper-echelon floor general, averaging 19.4 points and 9.0 assists per game. His increased creativity and effectiveness have made it easier for Al Horford and Paul Millsap to get favorable looks close to the tin.

    Aside from the stars, another reason to pull the trigger on Hawks tickets is to see Kyle Korver continue his three-pointer streak.

18. Denver Nuggets

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $93.45

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Two Colorado ski passes (total ranges from $80 to $95). 

     

    Watching Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried is fun, but not when they're trading baskets with the opponents every night. That happened in the playoffs, and it burned them. Forbes.com discussed the downturn:

    After their tremendous regular season run last season, the deflating playoff loss for the Denver Nuggets has had a tremendous negative effect on ticket demand, with prices for Denver Nuggets tickets down 37.38% from the previous season. The 37% drop is the largest downward trend in the NBA, with only the Lakers 27% drop being close.

    I'm not giving up on the Nuggets; I'm just not willing to spend more than $80-$85 on an average ticket.

17. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $94.23

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    This was a close one, but we decided to buy the Memphis Grizzlies' average ticket because they're so solid up front.

    In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better power forward-center combination elsewhere in the NBA. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are a huge burden for opponents to handle, especially because they both make foes work defensively, and they don't give up anything easy when protecting the paint.

    Mike Conley and Tony Allen form an excellent defensive backcourt, and even though they aren't flashy offensively, they work hard to find the best possible shot for the team.

    Memphis tickets aren't worth it unless you appreciate how different the Grizzlies are from the rest of the league.

16. Phoenix Suns

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    Barry Gossage/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $103.22

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Ticket prices went down in Phoenix this fall, but the team is largely overachieving thus far. Attending a Suns game is a chance to see a lot of athleticism at a fair price.

    Newcomer Eric Bledsoe has torn up the West since arriving in the Valley of the Sun. Markieff Morris, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee have joined him in exceeding expectations, so the club is considerably better than it was thought to be.

    Jeff Hornacek's young crew isn't an offensive juggernaut these days, but his boys make up for it on the defensive end, where they're in the top five in points allowed.

15. San Antonio Spurs

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $111.69

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    If you're more than a casual NBA fan, you know how special the San Antonio Spurs are.

    While they certainly don't offer the cheapest ticket in the league, they do offer an uncommon show on the court. Their chemistry is unmatched, and Gregg Popovich's roster is arguably the deepest in the Association.

    The roster is comprised of a smorgasbord of basketball cultures, with imported talent from France, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada and Italy to go along with the American players. Pop masterfully collects this spectrum of talent and turns it into a cohesive machine.

    This year, more than ever, admission to a Spurs home game holds an immense value, because 2013-14 might be the last year of the Big Three as we know them.

    Why pass on an opportunity to enjoy greatness?

14. Charlotte Bobcats

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $119.11

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Instead of watching Michael Jordan's team for one night, buy a pair of his sneakers you can wear for a couple of years (Prime.Fly for $99; CP3.VII for $125).

     

    Yes, the Charlotte Bobcats are gradually becoming a respectable organization.

    However, the 2013-14 squad isn't worth nearly $120 for an average ticket. Let's put it this way: If a team doesn't average more than 90 points per game, its average ticket shouldn't be above $90. So the Cats are more than an arm's length from reasonable.

    Even with the addition of Al Jefferson, this group is still too young to push any contenders around as the season unfolds.

    Kemba Walker's energy and dynamic skill are watchable, and there are some future standouts in Charlotte's fold. For now, they aren't worth emptying your wallet for.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $119.79

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    A shaky start wasn't enough to convince us that the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't a good ticket in 2013-14.

    Andrew Bynum and Anthony Bennett are struggling to be effective, and Anderson Varejao isn't where he was in 2012-13 (when healthy), so the Cavs face more of an uphill challenge than anticipated.

    So why are their tickets worth it? Kyrie Irving.

    Cleveland's third-year phenom works with the ball unlike anyone else in the league, and he routinely puts on a show as he carries the Cavs.

    Although Irving frequently carries the club from a playmaking standpoint, there are some other exciting contributors who make the trip to Quicken Loans Arena worth it. Shooting guard Dion Waiters is a highlight waiting to happen, and forward Tristan Thompson is a serious breakout candidate.

12. Dallas Mavericks

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $124.31

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Just from a sheer offensive perspective, the Dallas Mavericks should be worth a splurge.

    The fifth-highest-scoring unit in the NBA is led by a couple of top-tier scorers: the agile Monta Ellis and the cagey veteran Dirk Nowitzki.

    Gluing the offense together are Jose Calderon, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, while Samuel Dalembert anchors the low-post defense. The result is 105.7 points per game and a 7-4 start.

11. Boston Celtics

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $131.22

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Take someone to Boston Harbor whale watching plus New England Aquarium tickets (package for two is approximately $120).

     

    Being the passionate, tradition-loving sports town it is, high demand drives ticket prices up for every team in Boston. Hence, the transitioning franchise's average ticket is still above $130.

    Is a rebuilding group really worth that kind of dough?

    Even though Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett bid Beantown farewell, ticket prices only went down 3.28 percent.

    This is a major-market club with a rich history, but it's trotting out somewhat of a minor league lineup at this juncture without Rajon Rondo. The storied history is great, but I'm not going to buy a TD Garden ticket just to stare at the 1981 or 2008 title banners.

10. Toronto Raptors

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $142.57

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Instead of one Raps ticket, buy two season passes to Canada's Wonderland amusement park ($144 total).

     

    An evening at the Air Canada Centre will assuredly provide substantial entertainment, especially considering the aerial talents of Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Quincy Acy and Terrence Ross.

    Unfortunately, there's not enough winning going on to warrant an average ticket price that high. The Toronto Raptors have one of the top 10 most expensive tickets in the league, yet they don't look like a playoff team.

    Hopefully Jonas Valanciunas and the supporting cast will give the fans a better show as the season progresses. As of right now, the average fan is paying too much to watch a losing squad.

9. Golden State Warriors

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $149.69

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    If the 2013 playoffs weren't convincing enough, the Golden State Warriors opened the 2013-14 with a flurry of captivating basketball.

    The Dubs are going crazy from beyond the arc, leading the NBA at 46 percent from distance. Stephen Curry continues to astound as a shooter and passer, Klay Thompson has grown into a bona fide star and Andre Iguodala couldn't have asked for a better fit.

    Speaking of Iggy, he provided some early-season magic in Oracle Arena, buzzer-beater style.

    When the Warriors are in a groove, they're nearly unstoppable, and their home games are some of the most entertaining events in all of pro sports, not just the NBA.

8. Houston Rockets

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    Bill Baptist/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $152.13

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Kevin McHale's Houston Rockets have the star power and the offensive firepower to warrant a hefty ticket price.

    No other NBA club has a swingman-center combination with as much clout as James Harden and Dwight Howard. H-Town fans are hoping the duo is good enough to drive the Rockets to the finals.

    Houston is much more than this marquee pair, though.

    Remember Linsanity? He's having a superb start to his season, as is multi-dimensional forward Chandler Parsons. The Rockets also trot out five other key contributors in addition to some peripheral assets to average 108.8 points per game.

    This is one of the best shows in Texas. 

7. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $165.42

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Sure, their defense is a work in progress. And yes, they haven't achieved much playoff success at all the past couple of seasons.

    But no one will accuse the Los Angeles Clippers of not having a surplus of "watchability factor."

    While the best point guard in the game runs the show, two of the best finishers incessantly attack the hoop and a slew of sharpshooters work to get open.

    So far, it's made for some thrilling games. L.A. has eclipsed 100 points in all but two of its games, and it's broken 110 five times. 

    Is that a recipe for postseason success? That remains to be seen, so for now, Clippers fans must enjoy the splendor that is.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $187.16

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    The ticket prices take a noticeable jump from No. 7 to No. 6.

    You get what you pay for at Chesapeake Energy Arena, because it's very rare that Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant doesn't look like an MVP-caliber player. And it's equally uncommon for Russell Westbrook not to put on a show.

    Widely held as the NBA's "best young tandem," the two won't settle for anything less than an OKC title.

    Surrounded by a solid supporting cast, Durant and Westbrook have what it takes to outdo anyone. Until they win a ring, they'll remain in the shadow of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but that doesn't mean they aren't world-class.

5. Chicago Bulls

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $197.45

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    A few weeks ago, I would have considered passing on a Chicago Bulls ticket approaching $200.

    It seems like they've regained their footing and are bent on contending in the East. Five straight wins is a testament to their defense, and a 110-94 drubbing of the Indiana Pacers was fueled by seven different double-digit scorers.

    The Pacers may end up being the Miami Heat's conference finals foe, but the 2014 playoffs need Derrick Rose chasing that elusive dream.

    He's going to be fun to watch as he pursues his goal. The 2011 MVP had a rocky start, but he will delight countless fans at the United Center from now until the Bulls' final bell.

4. Brooklyn Nets

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $228.51

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Google Nexus 7 Tablet (16GB for $229.99).

     

    The Brooklyn Nets have suffered a frustrating start, to say the least.

    They've staggered to a losing record via woeful shooting and a dearth of quickness, and injuries are mounting as well.

    With most of the key rotational players banged up or just plain old, Brooklyn's playoff hopes are in jeopardy. The Nets have a slow (albeit big) roster, so they have to work extra hard for every bucket.

    They're scoring 97.1 points per game while yielding 102.4, and that's not earning many cheers. Jason Kidd hopes his crew can reverse those numbers and engineer a more valuable basketball product every night.

    Until then, I'd rather buy an all-purpose tablet.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $264.24

    Buy or Sell: Sell (prior to Kobe Bryant's return).

    Alternative: Flight to Disney (varies).

     

    With all due respect to Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake, the Los Angeles Lakers aren't worth the average ticket at Staples Center without Kobe Bryant.

    When they have the Black Mamba back, they'll be a different team with a different persona. Having an all-time Lakers great on the court adds an entirely different element to the game for everyone in the arena.

    Since he's not returning to action anytime soon, L.A. fans are left with inferior entertainment.

2. Miami Heat

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Average Ticket: $276.45

    Buy or Sell: Buy

     

    Whether you're enthralled by him or you're rooting like crazy against him, LeBron James is the most mesmerizing basketball player on the planet. It's hard to put a number next to his entertainment value.

    Oh, and he also happens to be a part of the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. Erik Spoelstra's club is aiming for a three-peat, and that makes every Heat game that much more interesting.

    The added bonus to purchasing a Heat ticket? You might get a chance to see a pregame dunking spectacle courtesy of LeBron.

1. New York Knicks

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Average Ticket: $320.92

    Buy or Sell: Sell

    Alternative: Round-trip flight to Las Vegas or Los Angeles (varies).

     

    Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks are in a heap of trouble. They're just not the same team they were last year.

    Even before Tyson Chandler was hurt, they struggled to generate any kind of efficient offense. After he went down with a non-displaced fibula fracture, the Bockers' on-court roller coaster got scarier.

    I don't know too many people willing to shell out $320 to watch 'Melo, Andrea Bargnani and J.R. Smith get outgunned by mediocre Eastern Conference competition.

    The newly renovated Madison Square Garden is nice, but not enough to make up for New York's losing ways.

     

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