Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland Cavaliers

Getting there

The Quicken Loans Arena is located in downtown Cleveland. If you are staying in that area you can easily walk to the venue. Cleveland has a good bus system if you are not staying downtown. There is parking but there is construction on the ourside of the arena which is restricting access in the areas so public transport or walking will be easier.

The venue

The Quicken Loans Arena, also known as the Q, opened in 1994. As mentioned they are doing work to the outside of the building and I hope those plans extend to the inside. This feels like an older NBA venue but once inside the seating area you can forget that and just focus on the ‘humungotron’.

Seats

Despite the aging feel of the building I really like the seats at the Q. You don’t get a huge amount of space but then find me a NBA venue that does have wide seats. The seats have good padding and support. We were in the upper bowl and had a great view (and we had the humungotron). Looking around it seemed that all seats would have good sight lines. 

Concessions

I was a little surprised  by how few concesession there were, there were a few merch stands and you could buy the usual basketball fare but the selection was more limited than other venues in the NBA.

Atmosphere

We went on a Monday night in earlier Feb to a game that could arguably have been described as a ‘must lose’ game for both teams (assuming that they want a top draft pick) so the venue wasn’t full. I could hear pockets of fans making noise and the hype squads were doing their best but this was not the best venue for atmosphere.

Final tip

Don’t miss the ]opportunity to grab food/drinks on East 4th street.

 

Oracle Arena – Golden State Warriors

Getting there

The venue is in Oakland. If you don’t want to stay in Oakland you should base yourself in San Francisco and take the BART to the game. You get off at Coliseum, take the footbridge and walk around the coliseum. To be honest, you take the BART and follow the crowds. It’s about 45 mins from downtown to the venue (including the walk).

The venue

One of the older venues in the NBA it’s easy to see why the Warriors want to move to new premises. The building is functional but has seen better days.

Seats

Pretty comfortable for such an old venue and the sight lines seem to be good from all sections.

Concessions

This is where the age of the venue can be seen. Although there are fan shops and food stalls there are fewer of each that you would find in other venues meaning that the queues can be much longer than you would expect pre-game.

There is a good range of food and drink available including healthy options

We bought one water and one shock-top beer and paid $20.

Atmosphere

We were at the Spurs @ Warriors game which was sold out so there was a good atmosphere. I know there are plenty of fans who only discovered the Warriors when they started winning championships but there fans at the Oracle are loud and proud of the Warriors.

Final tip

If you are planning a trip to Oracle make it soon as the new venue is scheduled to open in time for the 2019/20 season.

The Golden 1 Center – Sacramento Kings

Location

The venue is conveniently located in downtown Sacramento so once you have arrived in Sacramento you should have no trouble making your way there.

You can fly or take the train to Sacramento. We drove in.

Accommodation

I recommend the Vagabond Inn. It’s only a five minute walk from the venue and has parking.

The venue

This is a new venue. When you walk in you can actually see the court as you go down in to the lower bowl from the main concourse. This seems to be the new style of basketball venues.

The seats

The seats are padded and comfortable. There seems to be good sight lines from anywhere in the venue.

Concessions

They have the usual range of fan stores and food concessions. They have some healthy food options as well.

Atmosphere

The venue was fairly quiet and clearly hadn’t sold out the night we were there. This is a shame as it is a really nice venue but the team are one of the worst in the NBA just now which shows in their attendance figures. Still worth a visit though.

Staples Center – Los Angeles Lakers

Location

The venue is located in downtown LA.

Getting to the venue

We drove and parked in lot 1, you need to have booked in advance to use this. Lot 1 is right next to Staples Center and getting in is straight forward however getting out again does take a while.

I would recommend not driving to the venue if you can. If you are staying in LA anyway either walk or use public transport depending on how far away your hotel is.

The venue

Getting in was easy, the queues moved quickly.

This is a typical NBA venue with concessions and restrooms on each concourse.

Concessions

The usual range of fan stores, drink and food stalls. The is the first NBA venue I’ve been to that has McDonalds inside.

They have a few bars and there is a range of drinks available including margaritas (just remember that alcohol is not sold after the start of q4).

The prices are typical for the NBA. We got two cokes, small popcorn and a hotdog for $24.

The seats

We were in the upper bowl and the seats were really comfortable, al the seats were padded. It would have been nice if there were a bit wider but I understand the need to fit a lot of seats in.

Atmosphere

The crowd were loud on and off during the game. The venue wasn’t full which always impacts on atmosphere.

American Airlines Center

Team – Dallas Mavericks

Getting to Dallas

We drove into Dallas. Dallas has an Amtrak station and Dallas Forth Worth Airport so it is easy to get to Dallas for a NBA game.

Dallas

In addition to an NBA team, Dallas has NFL and NHL teams and a range of other sports teams. Dallas also has a lot of history to offer if you are in town for more than just the game. We spent a few hours at the The Sixth Floor Museum but unfortunately didn’t have time to check out any of the other tourist attractions that Dallas offers.

Dallas offers the usual range of chain restaurants, several well known options are only a few minutes walk from the venue (House of Blues, Hooters and Hard Rock). There is a wide range of hotel options. The ones around the centre of Dallas are more expensive but the ones on the outskirts seem to be in less attractive areas and the reviews were definitely off putting so we opted for a hotel in the centre (The Crowne Plaza). Of course we were looking for a hotel with parking, if parking is not essential you may get a cheaper deal.

Getting to the venue

From the Crowne Plaza the venue is a short, safe walk. There are not a lot of sign posts but it’s a fairly straight forward route and as you get closer to the venue you can start to follow the home fans.

There are a few large car  parks near the venue if you would prefer to drive (though if you are staying at one of the central hotels I would suggest that you don;t save much time by trying to drive to the venue instead of walking.

The venue

This is a typical NBA venue, where all the seats appeared to have a good view of the court. The seats do run a little on the small side in the upper bowl. I felt more restricted that I have at any other NBA venue and I am within my BMI range.

Food in the venue

Typical range of hot dogs, beer, burgers and pizza. We got pizza hut, I am never convinced pizza is a great venue option but the quality was good and the price reasonable for a NBA venue.

Chesapeake Energy Arena

Team – Oklahoma City Thunder

Getting to Oklahoma City

We drove in to Oklahoma Ciry as part of a road trip. OKC is well served an Amtrak station and an airport so there are a range of options depending on your budget and where you are coming in from.

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is typical of American cities. If you want chain restaurants then you will find something to suit your needs.

On the night of the game we headed in to Bricktown. I would definitley recommend the Bricktown Brewery and Whiskey Chicks.

It’s the state capital so there are no shortage of hotels. We found that hotels with parking were fairly expensive though that might have been because we were there around Valentine’s day. We ended up booking an AirBnB which is a little north of the centre but we still found it easy to walk to the centre.

Getting to the venue

We were able to walk to the venue from our accommodation. The venue is very close to the centre  and the surrounding streets are definitely safe to walk. There are a number of car parks around the venue (charging a range of fees) if you decide to drive instead.

The venue

The venue is typical of a NBA venue. The  seats were comfortable with enough room so that I didn’t feel squashed. We were in section 310 and had a good view of the court. It didn’t seem that any seats had a bad view.

Food in the venue

We had eaten so didn’t need to find food in the venue. A range of options were available for those who did need to.

The venue has a wide range of concessions providing options including the usual popcorn, hod dogs and beer but also baked potatoes, fruit salad and veggie wraps. I was also impressed by the range of gluten free options.

Nets @ Bulls December 28 2016

This was an interesting game for the Bulls. They had a terrible start going 9-0 down and needing to call a time out with 9.48 to go in the first. Whatever coach Hoiberg said clearly worked though as the Bulls scored out of the time out. 

They had a challenge ahead of them but by 2.50 to go in the first they had managed to get a one point lead and even finished the quarter three points ahead. 

Given the Nets performance away from home this season you would have been forgiven for thinking that this would not be an overly difficult game for the Bulls. Perhaps it was this optimism that led to them seeming just a little off their game. 

The second quarter started in much the same way as the first with the Bulls failing to score in the first two minutes, while allowing the Nets to score 5. 

From there the second quarter stayed tight, with neither team able to take a big lead and the Bulls found themselves going into the half down by 3. 

The third started better for the Bulls but although they fought to keep it close they did allow the Nets to sit in be lead for most of the quarter. At points, with the Nets 7 points ahead, it seemed that they might win the game. 

The fourth was close, although for most of it the Nets were ahead. With 2.50 to go they were 7 points ahead but they Bulls fought back, bringing the game level with 1.22 to go. 

By this point the crowd was completely on the edge of their seats ( in many cases standing) willing their team on. 

The final minute was what basketball games are for, the Bulls took a 2 point lead, the Nets levelled the score and then as the clock ran down Jimmy Butler had the ball, would he make the shot? Would it go in?

Yes and yes. 

In the final second he released the ball and made the shot!

Bulls win! 

Christmas Day Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks

The NBA traditionally plays Christmas Day games and this year was no exception with the Celtics @ the Knicks kicking things off. 

MSG seemed a little off their game as they were later than normal in allowing fans in to the venue and seemed to be practicing heightened crowd control (of course this was New York on Christmas Day so precautions are understandable).

The Knicks are having a good season, certainly better than some of the results would suggest. This was a highly anticipated match up following on from the dramatic game earlier in the season which saw Carmelo Anthony being removed from the game and KP picking up a technical foul as well.

All the players seemed to be excited for the match up and there was palpable anticipation among the crowd. The crowd started off fairly quiet but as the game progressed the volume rose and you easily hear the chants of ‘defence’ or ‘let’s go Knicks’. The Garden is known for this and it really is something to be part of the experience.

After the game Walt ‘Clyde’ Frasier commented on the atmosphere saying “you could hear all the oohs and ahhs, it was like Linsanity”

I’m not sure it was quite that, but every dubious decision by the referees was met with strong booing from the crowd, while a good play was met with loud cheers.

There was a sense that the Knicks may have started on the Christmas dinner a little early as they seemed sluggish at times. Noah is under a lot of pressure to perform this season, and is jeered when he fumbles or misses an easy rebound however he was not the only one to fumble the ball during this game (looking at you Melo).

Overall though it wasn’t a bad game for the Knicks, to suggest that is the reason they lost is to suggest that the Celtics are a bad team, which they are not – they were sitting second in the division gong in to the game. They have some great players including the lightening fast Isaiah Thomas, who scored 27 points in this game.

The Knicks lost this game on a couple of things- turnovers (17 to Boston’s 6), steals (5 to Boston’s 10) and shot selection, with marginally lower percentages in both FGs and three point shots. There were some media exports following this game claiming that isolation play was a big factor but I just don’t see that, this was a close game. The previous two home wins had 4 and 6 players in double digit points respectively, this game had 4 as well so I’s not out of the ordinary.

The team just need to keep focusing on being a team, finding the open man and staying awake on defence.

Barclays Centre 

This is the home venue for the Brooklyn Nets and for this season only the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s d-league affiliate). 

I’ve been to the venue a few times already  – during All Star 2015 and more recently for a Knicks @ Nets game. On those occasions I had a good experience of the venue however when I attended yesterday for a Long Island Nets game they really let themselves down. 

They decided to open the doors only 30 minutes before tip. This is not really a problem except that fans had arrived for doors being an hour before tip, and box office staff confirmed this time. Making people wait in the cold for 30 minutes with no explanation is not good customer service. 

When they finally let us in there was only one open concession stand. In fairness this was probably enough given the small numbers in attendance but it was clear that the focus of the day was on setting up for that evening’s Brooklyn Nets game. 

The staff in the venue were all really friendly, I genuinely don’t think the bad experience was anything to do with them. The problem is that the Barclay Centre is too big a venue for a d-league game and it is clearly costing the owners too much to keep using it as one. This does seem like an issue that would have been obvious at the start though. 

Venue – this is an NBA venue and holds just over 18,000 people. It’s a well designed venue and I’m don’t think here would be a bad view regardless of where you were sitting and of course there is a jumbo tron as well. 

The layout does mean that the lower bowl experiences drafts though this is only really noticeable during games with low attendance. 

Accessibility- the venue has its own station so is accessible from most parts of  New York. As I am usually based in Manhatten I take the 2 or 3 and it’s about 30 minutes to the venue. Once you get off the train the exit to the venue is well signposted. 

You could drive but given the range of public transport options I think it would be easier to use public transport, especially for big games. Having left the venue to head to the subway after big games I can say that the station is well managed and it does not take long to get on a train. 

Merchandise- on Brooklyn game days there are multiple points on the concourse to purchase team merchandise. On Long Island days there is one which has limited stock. 

Concessions – Barclays Centre has put some thought into this. There is a large bar area as well as numerous stands selling beer, popcorn, hotdogs, pizza etc. All the usual stuff you would expect from an NBA venue. We got 2 hotdogs and 3 small soft drinks for $24 

Just remember that on Long Island days your options are more limited and I don’t think they sell alcohol. 

Entertainment- the NBA is known for the entertainment that happens around the game with cheerleaders, t-shirt giveaways and on court competitions adding to the fun. At the Brooklyn games you can definitely expect all of this so you won’t be bored if you stay in your sat during breaks in play.

For Long Island Nets games do not expect any of this. You might get the odd opportunity to watch two fans challenge each other to take free throws but that’s about it. Which is a shame as other d-league franchises put the effort in here and make sure the fans energy levels stay high. 

Ticket prices – Brooklyn tickets are typical of NBA tickets in a big market. Book in advance if you want to guarantee attendance and be prepared to pay upwards of $60 (and even then you will be in the back row). 

Long Island Nets play nose games behind closed doors but when they do open them a general admission ticket will cost you $15 and a courtside seat is $50. 

All in all go for a Brooklyn game but if you want to see Long Island Nets is skip the limited open games and wait until they get to their permanent home.  

NBA Summer League

Better late than never. 
Every year the NBA holds Summer League in Las Vegas. It’s an opportunity for teams to play their new draft picks, rookies and any players they are interested in. It’s held at the Thomas and Mack centre over 10 days in July. 

It’s a great opportunity to see the latest draft picks and some of the more seasoned NBA players who come along to watch/support. 

The Thomas and Mack centre has two basketball courts allowing the NBA to hold up to eight games a day – 4 in each hall. You do need to plan your day to make sure you get to see the teams / players that you want to see. 

The first five days are the games that determine the seeding. Then they go into the tournament stage. If you are only really interested in your NBA team then I recommend that you go for the first few days. I picked to go the one year the Knicks didn’t so for me it was about picking the teams with the most interesting players. 

Tickets per day are very reasonably priced so many people only come for one game. 

Top tip- if you favourite team is playing the last game of the day in the larger hall get there early. Several games early. That way you pick your preferred seat – if you are in a group make sure you always leave at least one person in the hall to hold the seats. 

Venue – The larger of the two halls is not as big as a NBA venue but then these aren’t full NBA teams. The smaller hall is a good bit smaller so if you plan to watch any of the games there I recommend turning up early to make sure you get a good seat. 

The smaller hall has comfortable padded seats while the larger hall has plastic seats. 

Concessions- The venue has a variety of concession stalls selling beer, soft drinks, water, hot dogs, chicken and even a healthy option stall. The prices are fairly reasonable. A bottle of water was quite expensive but once you had a bottle you could refill it from the water fountains. 

Accessibility the venue is off the Strip. It’s about a 20-30 minute walk from the strip. If you are staying on the Strip I would recommend using taxis as that is quite a walk in July heat. At the end of the day they have a taxi cab rank so there should not be a long wait. 

Top tip- if the main reason you are in Vegas is Summer League then I recommend staying off Strip to make it easier to get to the Venue. There are a couple of options – the Hard Rock Hotel is off Strip or the less expensive Best Western McCarren Inn. 

They do have a massive parking lot with plenty of space  if you have a car. 

Merchandise – they have one big stall and one or two smaller stalls selling summer league t-shirts and associated merchandise. Prices are typical for NBA products.