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How to Buy Tickets for an NBA Game in New York

Buying a ticket to an NBA game at Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center will allow you to see the Knicks and Nets live. Are you in?

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

14 min read

How to Buy Tickets for an NBA Game in New York

Inside Madison Square Garden | ©Christian Reimer

One of the most fascinating spectacles you can attend in the United States is an NBA game. Whether it is because basketball is your passion or because you want to experience the madness and the atmosphere that this sport awakens in New York, it is a unique sensation that you have to experience at least once in your life.

What NBA games can you watch in New York?

New York Knicks vs Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden| ©James Trosh
New York Knicks vs Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden| ©James Trosh

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 downtown Manhattan. The team was founded in 1946 and is the longest-tenured team. Although they have only won two titles (the last one in... 1972!), they are the most famous team in the NBA. Moreover, they are finally a pleasure to watch them play: last season they reached the playoffs and have superstars like Julius Randle or the veteran Derrick Rose.

Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets changed courts 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 favorites for the title and ensure more spectacle than any other team in the league.

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Where to buy tickets to watch the NBA in New York?

Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden| ©Erik Cleves Kristensen
Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden| ©Erik Cleves Kristensen

NBA tickets can only be purchased online, as all tickets are digital. Hellotickets has an agreement with the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets to sell their tickets in Spain.

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.

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How much does it cost to watch an NBA game in New York?

Madison Square Garden, home stadium of the New York Knicks| ©Ajay Suresh
Madison Square Garden, home stadium of the New York Knicks| ©Ajay Suresh

The price varies depending on the teams facing each other, but the average price is approximately €150 per ticket for both the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. The minimum price is usually 50 € for a small game and in a seat far from the court. The maximum price is well over €1,000 for a courtside seat.

Something very important is that 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 games played by the Knicks at Christmas 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.

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How to save money when buying NBA tickets in New York?

Basketball ball of the games.| ©Markus Spiske
Basketball ball of the games.| ©Markus Spiske

To save money when buying NBA tickets when traveling to New York, it is important to keep in mind that ticket prices are constantly changing. That is, every day prices go up or down depending on demand just like a plane ticket.

The problem is that the Knicks and Nets have most of the stadium sold out 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.

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's 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 game, ticket prices will have changed, but will not yet have experienced a large increase.

The biggest problem is if there are less than two weeks left: in that case, there is 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 ones that are most in demand, but if you are all about the experience and have some flexibility with dates you can save by attending a less attractive game.

Choose the seat behind the basket

The last 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 those located in the corners. These tickets have a decent viewing angle and the price is significantly cheaper than a ticket in the center of the side.

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How much does a New York Knicks ticket cost?

Knicks team logo| ©Michael Tipton
Knicks team logo| ©Michael Tipton

A New York Knicks ticket has an average cost of 148 € per ticket. The minimum price is 52 € if it is an unimportant game towards the end of the season.

The most expensive time of the regular season (before playoffs) to go to see the Knicks is at Christmas, as this is when there is the highest demand. 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.

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How much does a Brooklyn Nets ticket cost?

Brooklyn Nets team logo| ©Michael Tipton
Brooklyn Nets team logo| ©Michael Tipton

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.

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How to avoid fake NBA tickets in New York?

Halftime of the game| ©Daniel Torres Bonatto
Halftime of the game| ©Daniel Torres Bonatto

The only way to avoid fake tickets is to buy from official websites, such as Hellotickets. There are websites of companies that sell unauthorized resale tickets. Not all of their tickets give problems, but there is the possibility that they are duplicated and, even if they later return 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 fans and discreetly ask if anyone is looking for tickets. These tickets are always fake. Their modus operandi is to take you to a secluded place to collect the tickets in cash. By the time they have blocked you trying to gain access, that scalper has disappeared with your money.

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What are the best seats in each arena?

Inside Madison Square Garden| ©Emmanuel Milou
Inside Madison Square Garden| ©Emmanuel Milou

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 soccer 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 through 12. In the corners or behind the basket (sections 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9) you get to experience the game up close and although you don't get a good view of the game, the experience is fantastic. The 100 sections are also highly rated because that's where the basketball is best enjoyed and they 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 how the game is viewed are 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.

How many NBA games are there in New York?

Barclays Center entrance| ©Reading Tom
Barclays Center entrance| ©Reading Tom

New York plays 82 NBA games from October through April: 41 New York Knicks games and 41 Brooklyn Nets games. If either team qualifies for the playoffs, the number would be higher.

Can I go see an NBA game at Christmas?

New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets| ©Miltiadis Fragkidis
New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets| ©Miltiadis Fragkidis

Yes, it is indeed one of the most popular moments 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 hometown over Christmas, so it is virtually certain that there will be at least one game during the trip.

Can I go to an NBA game in the summer?

New York Yankee Stadium in New York City| ©Marco Verch
New York Yankee Stadium in New York City| ©Marco Verch

Unfortunately not, as the NBA regular season starts in October and ends in April, and the playoffs end in June.

If you are traveling 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 lots and lots 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.

You can buy New York Yankees tickets here and New York Mets tickets here.

Alternatively, if you travel at the end of August or in September, the American soccer season will have already started. In New York the New York Giants and the New York Jets are playing. There are few games but you can check if any date fits you in this link for Giants tickets and in this link for Jets tickets.

How long is the NBA season?

Inside the Knicks locker room| ©AtlasMasland
Inside the Knicks locker room| ©AtlasMasland

The preseason (early October)

NBA teams typically play five to eight games in the preseason, which usually lasts just 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, since the teams are not yet in full swing 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, because they are important matches, you will have to mark in your calendar:

  • December 25 (Christmas). A very special day when the NBA usually plans the best matchups.
  • 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 go to see this game.
  • The Knicks VS. Nets. A classic game in New York that usually attracts a lot of people 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 of each team in the league meet to play an exhibition game.

NBA Playoffs (Mid-April - early June)

Once the regular season games are over, the 16 best teams in the NBA start the playoffs for the title: 8 teams from the eastern conference and 8 teams from the western conference will face each other.

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 qualified 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 once again. These games are, without a doubt, the most anticipated and the best of the year as the protagonists are the two best teams in the United States.

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.

When to travel to New York to enjoy the NBA?

Inside the Barclays Center| ©LunchboxLarry
Inside the Barclays Center| ©LunchboxLarry

Knowing all of the above, if you travel to the city before the regular season starts, i.e. during the preseason, I advise you to take a look at the teams' preseason schedule because they usually play friendly games in early October.

But the NBA games that will take place in New York are only assured between the months of October to April. From then on, everything will depend on whether the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets have managed to qualify for the Playoffs and ultimately the NBA Finals.

Do children pay admission to the NBA?

NBA Fans| ©Seth Hoffman
NBA Fans| ©Seth Hoffman

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 each team. In the case of the New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden's policy says 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 centimeters, can access 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, bring proof of the children's age with you in case you are asked for it at the entrance. Valid forms of identification are a birth certificate or passport.

On game day

In the shopping line inside the stadium| ©David Jones
In the shopping line inside the stadium| ©David Jones

When to go to the stadium?

NBA days in New York City are special. You can feel it in the atmosphere and there is more hustle and bustle in 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 stores that you can browse while you make time and also, you do not want to miss the anthem moment.

Madison Square Garden is in the heart of Manhattan so you can walk there if you are walking around after seeing another tourist attraction nearby. On the other hand, to get to the Barclays Center you will need a little more time if you take public transportation so it is convenient that you take into account the traffic or rush hours 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 to go calmly, go through the security arch, locate the 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 court. 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 strict security screening which 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 allowed.

As for the Barclays Center, according to its access policy, backpacks or bags larger than 14 "x14 "x6" or that have hard sides will not be allowed inside. Neither will professional camera equipment, audio and/or video recording devices or selfie sticks and tripods.

Where to eat before or after the game?

Inside the stadium there are many food and beverage stands but the prices are quite a bit more expensive than outside. For example, a bottle of water can cost around $5, a hot dog about $7 and a soft drink $6.5 approximately.

Since you are not allowed to enter the stadium with your own food or drink, my advice is that before the game starts, if you are hungry, buy something to snack at one of the restaurants around Madison Square Garden and 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.

Interesting information to watch the NBA

Outside Madison Square Garden| ©Jordan Staub
Outside Madison Square Garden| ©Jordan Staub

Although the NBA is one of the most popular sports in the world, last minute doubts can always arise.

How long does an NBA game last?

Officially it lasts 48 minutes (4 quarters of 12 minutes each), but between halftime and halftime most games usually last 2 hours or more. After the first two quarters, there is a half-time of 15 minutes in which you can take the opportunity to buy something to eat or go to the bathroom.

I don't have Internet access in New York! How do I access tickets?

In case you don't have an Internet connection during your trip to New York, you can always resort to the hotel where you are staying and open your tickets there so that they are ready on your cell 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.