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vs. Atlanta
What: First-round Eastern Conference playoffs
Series: Tied at 3
Game 1: Atlanta 101, Indiana 93
Game 2: Indiana 101, Atlanta 85
Game 3: Atlanta 98, Indiana 85
Game 4: Indiana 91, Atlanta 88
Game 5: Atlanta 107, Indiana 97
Game 6: Indiana 95, Atlanta 88
Today: at Indiana, 5:30 p.m.
Associated Press
Indiana's Lance Stephenson looks up at the scoreboard during the Pacers 107-97 playoff loss on April 28 to Atlanta.

An NBA first: 3 Game 7s in one night

Final chance for the Pacers

The phrase bespeaks mystique, and no margin left for error. It is the ultimate crunch time. It is the final answer. The jury is finally coming in.

Game 7 suggests two teams who have endured good nights and bad, highs and lows, ups and downs. And the time has come at last for someone to say uncle.

Game 7 makes the matter clear to the Indiana Pacers. Win and go on, leaving everyone to admire how they revived themselves at the eleventh hour. Lose and go home, leaving everyone to ask how it all fell apart.

Game 7 is graduation day, or expulsion.

Come today, there will be three of them in the NBA: at Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. Three in one day. That has never happened before in league history.

While we're on the subject of unprecedented, know how many Game 7s Indianapolis has ever been host to as an NBA team?

None. Zero. Not in Bankers Life or Conseco or Market Square Arena. Not before Reggie Miller or during Reggie Miller or after Reggie Miller. This is a first, and there are not many chances to say that in the playoffs.

The Pacers have played in six of them on the road, and won twice – at Boston in 2005 and at New York in 1995. Matter of fact, Indiana owns 9 percent of the Game 7 road wins in the annals of the NBA. There have been only 22, ever, and we're talking a postseason record book that goes back to 1947. Home teams are 92-22 in Game 7.

The question is, does history mean anything in this most peculiar postseason of 2014?

Home-court advantage has seemingly gone the way of the phone booth. Take the Pacers and Atlanta Hawks. The home team is 2-4 and has lost three in a row. “They know as well as anybody that they can beat us on our floor,” Paul George was saying of the Hawks, who have built 20-point leads three of their last four games in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “We're not scaring them in that aspect.”

It would appear hardly anyone in the league is scaring its visitors. Road teams are 23-19 in the playoffs. Game 7. The best thing about it is, there is no Game 8. It verifies, ratifies, qualifies and clarifies.

“We should be ready for this moment,” George said Friday on his 24th birthday. “They're in trouble because I'm going to have a lot of energy.”

One night makes it all better, or makes it all worse. One night gives a team another series, or shows it the door. That's why the league loves them, and the networks yearn for them.

Game 7. Welcome to Indianapolis.

Mike Lopresti is a freelance writer. His columns appear periodically.