Not Hot-lanta for the Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are discounting playoff tickets to lure fans to their games with the Indiana Pacers

With an average paid (but perhaps not actual) home attendance of just more than 15,000 fans per game, the Atlanta Hawks fill about 81 percent of Philips Arena on a nightly basis but are actually among the top 10 teams in NBA attendance — though you wouldn't know it from most pictures:

But one would like to think that drawing people in to watch the hometown team compete in the playoffs wouldn’t be a problem. The Hawks have, after all, reached the postseason in each of the last six seasons, and gotten out of the first round three times in that span, coming within two wins of the conference finals in 2011.

However, a deal featured on the coupon site LivingSocial for the Hawks’ two playoff games against the Indiana Pacers this weekend calls that into question.

With the deal, fans can purchase a ticket in section 307 or 314 for $16, instead of $32. Prospective spectators can also spend $51 on a seat in sections 108-11 or 119-122 — lower-bowl seats behind the basket that are usually sold at a face value of $68. The deal applies to both Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday, and as of 11 a.m. ET, more than 1,300 seats had been purchased.

Generally, these kinds of deals are a bad sign for teams who have plenty of seats available in their own hometown. The Miami Marlins, for example, sold half-price tickets to their home opener — in their year-old park built with more than $500 million in public funds — on Groupon. And you’d never see teams like the Heat, Knicks and Thunder selling their tickets at a discount just to get butts in the seats.

But Atlanta is historically considered a "bad" sports town — which lost its NHL team last offseason — and in February 2012, Forbes ranked the Georgia capital city as the “most miserable sports city in America.” Even the Braves are struggling to draw, filling 65 percent of Turner Field over their first eight home games despite having one of the best teams in the league.

Earlier this season, Hawks forward and Atlanta native Josh Smith told the New York Daily News that it’s “a little difficult” playing in a town like Atlanta. If the current LivingSocial special is any indication, Saturday’s crowd won’t do much to change the soon-to-be free agent’s mind.

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