The Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers are facing off in the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. It's a series that many expect the Celtics to win. In fact, they have an 87 percent chance of advancing out of the first round, and NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh is buying into the Celtics.

Haberstroh is picking the Celtics to win in six games over the Pacers, and his main reason behind this is sensible. The Celtics have dominated the Pacers' defense so far this season, and have scored 117.6 points per 100 possessions against them. And in their last three outings against Indiana, the team has had at least 114 points each time out.

Considering that the Pacers have a well-regarded defense, that is impressive.

While the Celtics are dealing with a recent injury to Marcus Smart, Haberstroh points out that his absence won't have as much of an impact as many are thinking, especially compared to the notable absence on the Pacers side of the ball.

With Oladipo sidelined, the Pacers don’t have a current or former All-Star at their disposal, and the Celtics have three -- Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Marcus Smart’s absence will be felt, but keep in mind that the feisty guard shot just 5-of-22 from the floor and made only four 3-pointers in the regular-season series against Indiana, and the Celtics still blew the doors off of the Pacers.


Thanks to the Celtics' overall star power and their great performance against the Pacers in recent games, Haberstroh expects the Celtics to emerge victoriously after the first round of the postseason.

Check out Haberstroh's full first-round predictions for the Eastern Conference>>>

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