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Thursday, 28 September 2017 16:07

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics: 2017-18 NBA Season Preview

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics: 2017-18 NBA Season Preview | Powered by CLNS Media

Boston Celtics Newsfeed 2017-18 NBA Season Preview

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

2016-17 Round-up: The Lakers finished with 26 wins last season, placing 14th in the Western Conference and eventually finished runner-up in the NBA draft lottery. In their first season post-Kobe Bryant, L.A. actually improved dramatically by winning nine more games, but the struggles of a young team were still prevalent.

After 58 games and just one start, leading scorer Lou Williams was traded in February and the team made a push for the No. 1 overall pick. Young guard Jordan Clarkson provided a small highlight, averaging 14.7 points per game on solid splits, while No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram struggled to score consistently from anywhere.

The Lakers cleaned house for the most part after the season, starting at the top with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka entering the front office in February.

Offseason Grades: The Lakers made a swift change at point guard in late-June, dealing former No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets at the same time they were drafting current No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball. In exchange for Russell, Los Angeles brought back Brook Lopez and another first-rounder in Kyle Kuzma, while also shipping out Timofey Mozgov.

Ball went on to an MVP showcase in the Las Vegas Summer League, while Lopez brings a slightly more agile seven-footer with a dramatically more potent offensive game. He averaged over 20 points per game in Brooklyn last season and hit on 34.6 percent of more than five threes a night.

The Lakers offseason didn’t end on draft night, though. Pelinka and Johnson brought in more young players in rookies Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant. They threw big money for one year at shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, while bidding adieu to Thomas Robinson and Metta World Peace.

Finally, the Lakers wound up being the landing spot of veteran big man Andrew Bogut, who had the eye of a handful of contenders before signing a one-year deal in L.A.

Training Camp Questions: The Lakers have done an intriguing job building their team for 2017-18 and beyond. Training camp will give fans a chance to see what Ingram has started to grow into and what Ball looks like surrounded by NBA talent. Lopez, Caldwell-Pope and Julius Randle are legitimate pro players and Ball will be entrusted to run a new-look offense in his first NBA season.

Next Move They Make: Lopez, Caldwell-Pope and Cory Brewer represent three expiring contracts totaling nearly $50 million. If the Lakers want to make a move, they have the arsenal to do so. However, I believe these moves were made to make Los Angeles competitive this season. They do not own their own 2018 first-round pick. If it lands 2-5, it goes to Boston, but even if it doesn’t the 76ers get it.

Also, I don’t see a team stepping up to take on Luol Deng at $18 million through 2020.

How they Beat the Boston Celtics: Despite what the Ball family may think, the Celtics and Lakers will only have a chance to play twice in 2017-18. The Lakers come to Boston on Nov. 8 for an ESPN game, before the Celtics head to Staples Center on Jan. 23 on TNT.

Lonzo will certainly be appointment viewing in Boston, as the Celtics could have drafted him No. 1 overall, but traded down for Jayson Tatum. Those two, along with Markelle Fultz will be forever linked. Defensively, the Lakers won’t be able to hold up to Boston’s attack. There is no answer for Kyrie Irving and whatever athleticism and size advantage L.A. may hold with Ingram the Celtics can at least match with Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Trending: I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Los Angeles win total inch ahead once more this season. The Western Conference will be brutal, so there is still a chance the Celtics see an additional lottery pick this year, but the Lakers made some good moves to bring in veterans to help Ball and Ingram grow into the future.

Final Record/Standings Prediction: 30-52, 12th in Western Conference

Mike Walsh

Mike Walsh is the CLNS Media Network's Boston Celtics Content and Newsfeed Manager.

Mike is a graduate of Marist College with a degree in sports communications. He spent three years as a NBA Featured Columnist with Bleacher Report, where he was the site's top Boston Celtics writer.

Mike is a full-time sports writer with The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. He can be reached by email to MikeW@CLNSMedia.com or via Twitter @CLNS_Walsh.

Personal Website: www.WalshWrites.com