One of the most fascinating spectacles you can attend in the United States is an NBA game. Whether it's because basketball is your passion or because you want to experience the madness and the atmosphere that this sport brings to New York, it's a unique sensation that you have to experience at least once in your life.
1. Which NBA games can you watch in New York?
There are two NBA teams in New York, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. Both compete from October to April in the regular season and from April to June in the playoffs if they qualify.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks play at the legendary Madison Square Garden, located in midtown Manhattan. The team was founded in 1946 and is the longest-standing team. Although they have only won two titles (the last one in... 1972!), they are the most famous team in the NBA. And they are finally a joy to watch: last season they made the playoffs and have superstars like Julius Randle and veteran Derrick Rose.
The Brooklyn Nets changed their home court a few years ago and now play at the modern Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They have possibly the best roster in the NBA with the duo of James Harden and Kevin Durant. They start as favourites for the title and ensure more entertainment than any other team in the league.
2. Where to buy tickets to watch the NBA in New York?
After COVID, it is no longer possible to buy tickets at the box office, although they still work to collect some corporate tickets or season ticket holders who have season tickets.
3. How much does it cost to watch an NBA game in New York?
The price varies depending on the teams playing each other, but the average price is approximately €150 per ticket for both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. The minimum price is usually €50 for a small game and a seat away from the court. The maximum price is well over €1,000 for a courtside seat.
Importantly, ticket prices change every day, just like the price of a plane ticket. If there is more demand and there are few tickets left, the price is more expensive, while if the demand is not met, the price will go down.
The price also fluctuates throughout the season. The Knicks' Christmas games are the most expensive of the year, as the city fills up with international and American tourists who want to go to Madison. However, towards the end of the regular season (April), they tend to be cheaper because fans of both teams prefer to wait for the playoffs.
4. How to save when buying NBA tickets in New York?
To save money when buying NBA tickets when you travel to New York it is important to keep in mind that ticket prices are constantly changing. In other words, prices go up and down every day depending on demand, just like a plane ticket.
The problem is that the Knicks and the Nets have sold out most of the stadium to their season ticket holders before the season starts. Therefore, it is not uncommon for tickets to sell out, so demand is always high. With this in mind, there are a few things you can do to save money.
Buy tickets in advance
The most important one to save on NBA ticket prices is to buy tickets as far in advance as possible. Knicks and Nets tickets go on sale in mid-August and that is when their prices are lowest for all games of the season. If possible, this is the best time to buy them. This is similar to booking a flight or hotel.
If there are still more than two months to go before the match, ticket prices will have changed, but will not yet have experienced a big increase.
The biggest problem is if there are less than two weeks left: in that case, you have no choice but to pay a higher price, as there will be a lot of demand and few tickets available.
Choose a less attractive opponent
Another essential factor in determining the price of the game is the Knicks' or Nets' opponent. A game against one of the best teams in the league or one of the most famous teams (such as the Lakers) can be up to 3 times more expensive than a game against a lesser team. Obviously the big games are the most in demand, but if you care about the experience and have some flexibility with the dates you can save by attending a less attractive game.
Choose the seat behind the basket
The final saving tip is to choose a seat that offers a good experience but is not overly expensive. The price of seats behind the basket (no matter if you are near or far from the court) are always cheaper than seats on the side of Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center.
However, the best seats in terms of value for money are the corner seats. These tickets have a decent viewing angle and the price is significantly cheaper than a ticket in the middle of the side.
5. How much does a New York Knicks ticket cost?
A New York Knicks ticket costs an average of 148 € per ticket. The minimum price is €52 if it is a small game towards the end of the season.
The most expensive time during the regular season (before the playoffs) to go to see the Knicks is at Christmas, as this is when demand is highest. If they qualify for the playoffs, the average price ranges from €200 for the first round to an estimated €1,000 if they make it to the NBA Finals.
6. How much does a Brooklyn Nets ticket cost?
A Brooklyn Nets ticket has an average price of 172 € per ticket. The minimum price is €55, if the opponent is unattractive and there is nothing at stake at the end of the regular season, just before the playoffs.
The average cost of a playoff ticket to see the Nets is €225 in the first round and is estimated to cost around €850 if they go all the way to the NBA Finals.
7. How to avoid fake NBA tickets in New York?
The only way to avoid fake tickets is to buy from official websites, such as Hellotickets. There are websites of companies that sell unauthorised resale tickets. Not all of their tickets are a problem, but there is a possibility that they may be duplicated and, even if they later refund the money, you will not be able to enter the stadium.
There are also people outside the stadium who offer tickets. They do not do this openly, but pass by the fans and discreetly ask if anyone is looking for tickets. These tickets are always fake. Their method is to take you to a secluded place to collect the tickets in cash. When they have blocked you trying to gain access, the tout has disappeared with your money.
8. What are the best seats in each stadium?
The NBA game experience will largely depend on the seat you choose when you buy your ticket. Although basketball arenas have less capacity than a football arena, they are huge venues for how small the court is, and a ticket in the back rows is really far away from the players.
What are the best seats at Madison Square Garden?
The best seats at Madison Square Garden are in sections 1-12. In the corners or behind the basket (sections 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9) you can experience the game up close and, although you can't see the game well, the experience is fantastic. The 100 sections are also highly valued because they are the best place to enjoy basketball and are still close to the court.
What are the best seats at the Barclays Center?
The best seats at the Barclays Center are between sections 1 and 31. The corner sections, which offer a good relationship between price and viewing are sections 3, 13, 19 and 29. One of the last rows in these sections is preferable to one of the first rows in the 200 sections.
9. How many NBA games are there in New York?
82 NBA games are played in New York from October to April: 41 New York Knicks games and 41 Brooklyn Nets games. If either team qualifies for the playoffs, the number would be higher.
10. Can I go to an NBA game at Christmas?
Yes, it is indeed one of the most popular times of the season and the atmosphere is spectacular. The NBA makes sure that all teams, including the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, play several games in their home city over Christmas, so it is almost certain that there will be at least one game during the trip.
11. Can I go to an NBA game in the summer?
Unfortunately not, as the NBA regular season starts in October and ends in April, and the playoffs end in June.
If you are travelling in the summer and want an alternative to the NBA to experience American sports, you can go see the New York Yankees or the New York Mets, two baseball teams that are in mid-season in the summer. Baseball teams play a lot of games, so it's easy to catch one of them. You may not even like baseball, but you're sure to get the typical cap, anthem and hot dog look.
Alternatively, if you travel at the end of August or in September, the football season will have already started. In New York the New York Giants and the New York Jets are playing. There are only a few games but you can check if a date fits you at this link for Giants tickets and at this link for Jets tickets.
12. How long is the NBA season?
The pre-season (early October)
NBA teams typically play five to eight games in the preseason, which usually lasts a little over three weeks, to gauge their strength for the start of the league. Buying NBA tickets to watch these games is usually cheaper, although it is true that the quality of the games is lower, as the teams are not yet in full training camp and often reserve their stars.
NBA regular season (mid-October - early April)
During these months, each team plays 82 games, one every two days. During the regular season, there are several dates that you will have to mark in your calendar because they are crucial matches:
- 25 December (Christmas). A very special day when the NBA usually plans the best games.
- The first game of the year. The first game of the year at both Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center is usually a party. Many New Yorkers and tourists take the opportunity to watch this game.
- The Knicks VS. Nets. A classic game in New York that usually attracts a large crowd is the "derby" between the two teams of the city. If you are lucky and you happen to be there, don't miss it.
- February (NBA All-Star). The All-Star game where the best players from each team in the league come together to play an exhibition game.
NBA Playoffs (Mid-April - early June)
With the regular season games over, the 16 best teams in the NBA begin the playoffs for the title: 8 teams from the Eastern Conference and 8 teams from the Western Conference will face each other.
The Playoffs are best-of-7 games and before reaching the NBA Finals there are three rounds: quarterfinals, semifinals and conference finals. These playoffs usually last almost two months and at the end only the two conference winners are left to fight in the finals for the NBA title.
Last season, both the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets managed to qualify for the Playoffs.
NBA Finals (June)
Only one winner can remain. With 2 teams still standing out of the 16 that made the Playoffs, the NBA Finals begin, played as a best-of-seven game series once again. These games are undoubtedly the most anticipated and the best of the year as the two best teams in the United States are the protagonists.
But of course, tickets for these NBA games are the most expensive of the entire season. And yet they sell out quickly because it is, in addition to the Superbowl, the sporting event of the year in the United States.
13. When to travel to New York to enjoy the NBA?
Knowing all of the above, if you are travelling to the city before the regular season starts, i.e. during the pre-season, I advise you to take a look at the teams' pre-season schedule because they usually play friendly games in early October.
But the NBA games that will take place in New York are only guaranteed between October and April. After that, it all depends on whether the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets have qualified for the Playoffs and ultimately the NBA Finals.
14. Do children pay admission to the NBA?
The NBA is a very family-friendly spectacle, but when it comes to the question of whether children pay admission, the truth is that it depends on the team. In the case of the New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden's policy states that children who have reached the age of two must have a ticket.
As for the Brooklyn Nets, according to the Barclays Center stadium for all sporting events, children up to 34" inches tall, or 86.36 centimetres, can enter the Barclays Center for free but must share a seat with a ticketed adult who accompanies them. Any child who does not meet this height requirement will require a ticket to enter the stadium and must occupy their ticketed seat only.
If you are going to the stadium with children under the age of two, please bring proof of the children's age with you in case you are asked to do so at the entrance. Valid forms of identification are a birth certificate or passport.
15. On game day
When to go to the arena?
NBA days in New York are special. You can feel it in the atmosphere and there is more hustle and bustle on the streets than usual in the Big Apple. My advice is not to arrive too early. Inside the stadium there are fast food, snack and souvenir shops that you can browse while you're making time and you don't want to miss the anthem moment.
Madison Square Garden is in the heart of Manhattan so you can walk there if you're walking around the area after seeing another nearby tourist attraction. On the other hand, to get to the Barclays Center you will need a bit more time if you take public transportation, so be aware of traffic or rush hour so you can get to the stadium without rushing.
On the day of the game I advise you to go at least an hour in advance so that you can take it easy, go through the security arch, find your seats, experience the atmosphere before the game with the music and dances of the cheerleaders, listen to the American anthem before the game starts and watch the players enter the stadium. It's like a movie!
Is it possible to bring backpacks or cameras?
According to Madison Square Garden's policy, backpacks and unnecessary bags should not be brought into the stadium. All will be subject to a strict security check that may delay access to the stadium. In addition, no video cameras, audio recording devices, professional cameras (including telephoto or zoom lenses), selfie sticks or tripods are permitted.
As for the Barclays Center, according to its access policy, backpacks or bags larger than 14 "x14 "x6" or with hard sides will not be permitted. Professional camera equipment, audio and/or video recording devices, selfie sticks and tripods will also not be allowed.
Where to eat before or after the game?
Inside the stadium there are many food and drink stalls but the prices are significantly more expensive than outside. For example, a bottle of water can cost around $5, a hot dog around $7 and a soft drink around $6.5.
Since you are not allowed to bring your own food or drink into the stadium, my advice is that before the game, if you are hungry, buy something to eat at one of the restaurants around Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center such as Shake Sack or Five Guys. Or wait until the game is over to go there, celebrate your team's victory and treat yourself.
16. Useful information for watching the NBA
Although the NBA is one of the most popular sports in the world, last minute questions can always arise.
How long is an NBA game?
Officially it lasts 48 minutes (4 quarters of 12 minutes each), but between the breaks and halftime most games usually last 2 hours or more. After the first two quarters, there is a 15-minute half-time where you can take the opportunity to buy something to eat or go to the toilet.
I don't have an Internet connection in New York! How do I access tickets?
If you don't have an internet connection during your trip to New York, you can always use your hotel 's internet connection and open your tickets there so that they are ready on your mobile phone when you arrive at the venue. You can also go to any public establishment such as a coffee shop or restaurant near the stadium, as they have free WiFi.