The NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks tips off tonight, Tuesday, May 31, in Miami, but two big winners have already...

The NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks tips off tonight, Tuesday, May 31, in Miami, but two big winners have already been established: Ticket brokers and their wealthier clientele.

Brokers in both cities report brisk business, albeit at the type of prices that have made it difficult for the casual fan to participate — though those with smaller budgets will find it easier to buy tickets via brokers, at least in Miami, which will host Games 1 and 2 and, if necessary, Games 6 and 7. All games are sold out, but the Heat was charging as much as $225 for a seat in the upper reaches of American Airlines Arena.

“We have seen a lot of Heat fans who aren’t willing to pay quite as much, they’re looking for those last-minute deals,” Lena Siegendorf of Premium Seats USA told TicketNews. “Those with discretionary income are ready to purchase.”

Siegendorf said the market quieted a little over the weekend, and search results at StubHub.com suggest the time and price may be right for those who just want to get into the building. As of this afternoon, there were 1,429 Game 1 tickets on sale, including 334 priced at less than $225, beginning with a $94 standing room only ticket.

In Dallas — which will host Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 — the prices are still sky high, with the cheapest Game 3 ducat on StubHub.com going for a cool $309 in the upper level baseline.

“There’s a lot of money in Dallas — oil has been up, a lot of tickets have been [sold],” Randy Cohen of Dallas-based TicketCity told TicketNews. “So we’ve been getting the high-end stuff.”

Different yet equally passionate anticipation for the Finals in the two cities is also helping to drive up ticket prices. Anything less than a championship will be a disappointment to the Heat, which was expected to get this far after LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach and joined Wade in polarizing fashion last summer.

The Mavericks’ championship window looked like it was closed shut with an aging roster in the competitive Western Conference. The Mavericks’ road didn’t get any easier when they entered the playoff as the no. 3 seed, which meant likely matchups with the second-seeded Los Angeles Lakers and the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals and finals. But the Spurs were wiped out by the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and the Mavericks — whose most used starting lineup this season featured four players 30 or older — swept the Lakers in the semifinals and knocked off the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the conference finals. The Mavericks have won 10 of their last 11 games overall.

“It’s very hot,” Cohen said, pun not intended, of the interest in the Mavericks. “When you don’t expect it, the interest is actually hotter. People are very, very excited for Dallas. When they thought they’d have to go against the Lakers then San Antonio, it didn’t look too good. Definitely makes it that much more sweet.”

Interest in the Finals is further stoked by the nationwide interest in the Heat as well as the history between the two franchises. This is a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, which the Heat won in six games, though only one core player for each team (Wade on the Heat and Dirk Nowitzki for the Mavericks) remains.

“All our current clients that went to the games back in ’06 are very interested in tickets,” Siegendorf said. “At the beginning of the season we had a lot of [out-of-market] clients that were buying tickets to the games, whether they were a fan of the home team or a fan from another market.”

“I think that people are very excited because of the team coming in…the fact they’re playing the Heat, ‘The Big Three.'” Cohen said.