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 11th 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 7's Indianapolis has ever hosted 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 nine percent of the Game 7 road wins in the annals of the NBA. There have only been 22, ever, and we're talking a postseason record book that goes back to 1947. Home teams are 92-22 in Game 7.
Why? Who can say for sure? The home team is the higher seeded, so it should win a majority of the time, but that can't explain how one-sided the statistic is. Perhaps the crowd is more zealous, the noise louder, the atmosphere more intense. Maybe Game 7 and all its trappings can get in a visitor's head.