BOSTON (CBS) — All year long, the Celtics never lived up to expectations. In the final months of the season, when the chances of getting one of the top two seeds in the East were essentially gone, the mind-set of the team — and Kyrie Irving — seemingly shifted to this moment. At long last, it’s time for the postseason to begin.

And while this Celtics team has opened up itself to many, many questions regarding their ability to contend for a championship, we’re still not quite there. For now, the fourth-seeded Celtics will be taking on the fifth-seeded Pacers, who have been and remain without star player Victor Oladipo. The Celtics should win this series. But then again, there are a lot of things the Celtics should have done this past season that ended up being more difficult than anticipated.

Here’s how the WBZ sports crew anticipates this series will play out.

Steve Burton, WBZ-TV

Even without Marcus Smart, the Celtics still have too much talent to lose to the Pacers.

Expect Kyrie Irving and the rest of the team to take their game to a whole new level. If they share the basketball, they win. It’s just that simple.

There are times when Kyrie will need to take over, but he has to be wise enough to give up the ball if his shots aren’t falling. Don’t try and force it; he doesn’t have to.

Gordon Hayward is playing his best basketball lately and he too will be a force. His confidence is sky high.

Celtics in 5

Dan Roche, WBZ-TV

The Celtics have been a difficult team to figure out all season, and the Marcus Smart injury is a tough one for all he represents. The Celts should get by Indy though in 5 or 6 games and move in to round two.

Celtics in 5

Levan Reid, WBZ-TV

OK, despite the C’s up-and-down season, I’m going to take this team at their word. They all said they would be better come postseason … well, here we are.

It won’t be easy now that tough juice, aka Marcus Smart, is sidelined, but the Celtics are better than the Pacers.

Plus, Kyrie Irving can now really lead and get the job down.

Celtics in 5

Scott Sullivan, WBZ-TV

Losing Marcus Smart was a big blow for the Celtics, but still not nearly as big a blow as Indiana losing Victor Oladipo for the season.

Indiana has played hard and overachieved since Oladipo went down, and they never give in. But, with or without Smart, the C’s still have enough depth to dispose of the scrappy Pacers. Look for Gordon Hayward to have a big series against his home state team.

Celtics in 5

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

What, is everybody nuts? Celtics in 5 galore! Have you all not watched the Celtics this season? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

Now, I’m not going to go out and say that the Celtics are about to lose a series to a team led in scoring by Bojan Bogdanovic. The Celtics are too good for that. But as we’ve learned time and time (and time) again this season, nothing comes easily for the Celtics. If they open up a 25-point lead, it often shrivels to three (or zero) points in no time at all. If they put together a four-game win streak, it’s often followed by a three-game losing streak. A blowout win tends to be followed by a blowout loss.

So, Celtics in 5? No way. Not with this team. They’re plenty good enough to win the series, but not with ease.

Celtics in 7

Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

The Marcus Smart injury is a big blow to Boston’s playoff chances, but it shouldn’t hurt them too much in the first round. If the Pacers still had Victor Oladipo playing at an MVP level, the loss of Smart would have likely sunk the C’s.

It’ll be interesting to see who steps up in Smart’s absence. Jaylen Brown should find himself back in the starting five, and he finished the season strong after a rough start. He’ll have to play the defensive role that Smart would usually fill, and it’s not easy for anyone to match Smart’s tenacity on that end of the floor. Terry Rozier is also in line for a bigger role, a great chance to make up for his terrible regular season off the bench. It would be in his best interest to play like a madman again if he wants to get an absurd offer sheet from someone this summer.

The Pacers are still a scrappy bunch and they play some great defense for Nate McMillan, but they are a team without a superstar right now. They also lost 10 straight on the road before winning their final two road tilts of the season.

The Celtics won their three games against the Oladipo-less Pacers, including a pair of victories over the last three weeks that helped secured the four-seed. They also tagged that Indy D for at least 114 points in each of those three wins. If the Celtics play like they did to close the season (not counting their final two games) and Gordon Hayward continues to be aggressive, Boston should win the series easily.

Celtics in 5

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