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Wizards' loss to Cavs displays difference in depth between the teams

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Wizards' loss to Cavs displays difference in depth between the teams

The Wizards were without Otto Porter, who sat out with a hip injury, on Sunday night against the Cavs and matters were further complicated by his replacement, Kelly Oubre, Jr., getting into early foul trouble. John Wall was in just his third game back after missing nine with a left knee injury. Markieff Morris still isn't himself and had to get an X-ray midgame after getting hit in the neck.

That's a lot of reasons one could point to for why the Wizards lost to the Cavaliers on Sunday night. The problem is that even all those things added together don't equal the plight of their opponent.

The Cavs have been without Isaiah Thomas all season and on Sunday they were missing Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose, leaving them dangerously thin at the guard position. They started 36-year-old Jose Calderon against Wall, one of the best point guards in the business.

The Cavs were playing the second game of a back-to-back set, having beaten the Jazz in Cleveland the night before. And the Cavs also didn't get a great shooting night from LeBron James, who managed a triple-double with 20 points but shot just 8-for-23 from the field. That's nowhere near his 57-point performance back in November in the first game between these teams.

[RELATED: NO MORE DUNKS AT PRACTICE FOR JOHN WALL]

They were playing a back-to-back, were missing four key players and LeBron's shot was off, but the Cavs still had enough to secure a road win against a good team in the Wizards. A big reason why is because they have one of the deepest rosters in basketball. Despite missing a host of regulars, they still had enough capable options to roll a 10-man rotation and see all their players record a net rating of even or better.

Perhaps it's unfair to draw major conclusions from a matchup between these teams that excluded so many key figures, but on Sunday night the Wizards were reminded how they still have work to do in order to catch the Cavs, who have represented the Eastern Conference in three straight NBA Finals. Some would point to the obvious reason for that, how they have the best player on the planet and the Wizards do not. But it was hard not to notice the Cavs' depth as being another separator on Sunday night.

The Cavs, who have won 17 of their last 18 games, can win in a variety of ways and with a lot of different people contributing to the cause. Some of the players who came off the bench to help them win on Sunday would have much smaller roles if everyone on the roster were healthy. Jeff Green had 15 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Kyle Korver had 11 points and shot 4-for-6 from the field. Channing Frye and Cedi Osman, who may not see the floor if others had played, each had five points and were 4-for-6 combined from the field.

Through 30 games, more than a third of the 2017-18 season, the Wizards appear to be a deeper team after improving their bench, which was a noted weakness. Mike Scott has emerged as a consistent scorer. Ian Mahinmi is healthy and in recent weeks has started to round into form. Tomas Satoransky is developing into a nice backup point guard and Jodie Meeks has improved the backup shooting guard position from last season.

[RELATED: MIKE SCOTT IS THE SURPRISE OF THE SEASON SO FAR]

Once Wall and Morris play to their career norms, the Wizards should be a better team than they were last season. But whether they have the depth to truly test the Cavaliers in a playoff series is a question we don't yet know the answer to.

The Wizards will have to make a decision at some point before the February 8 trade deadline, which is now 53 days away, of what they need to really give themselves a chance at a deep playoff run. And in order to go deep in the postseason, they will likely have to square off against the Cavs.

Not all of their decisions will be based on how it directly affects their matchup with Cleveland, but surely that will be kept in mind as the Wizards look ahead towards the playoffs. They know who has to be knocked off to get where they want to go.

So far through two meetings with the Cavs this season, the Wizards have lost both of those games and neither featured the two teams at full strength. In their first meeting on Nov. 3, Morris was in his first game back from sports hernia surgery and Thomas, of course, didn't play. Their next matchup will be Feb. 22, after the deadline, meaning they have all the data they will get in terms of how the teams stack up head-to-head.

Do the Wizards need to make a move in the next two months to get closer to the Cavs, or do they already have enough to measure up in the spring? That's not an easy call for the Wizards' front office to make.

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Utah Jazz make guard Rodney Hood available, would Wizards be a fit?

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Utah Jazz make guard Rodney Hood available, would Wizards be a fit?

Momentum is building towards Utah Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood getting dealt before next month's NBA trade deadline. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported on Saturday that multiple teams have already expressed interest in the four-year pro:

Hood, 25, is on an expiring contract and would provide scoring for a team in the market for offense. He's averaging 16.7 points this season on 41.3 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three.

Hood isn't a very efficient player, but he can stretch the floor. He's also big for his position at 6-foot-8 and is a very good free throw shooter (86.2%).

The Wizards could use help at the shooting guard position with Bradley Beal logging heavy minutes. They have an improved bench after making several upgrades last offseason, but shooting guard Jodie Meeks has yet to establish a consistent role in their rotation due to his low shooting percentage.

The Wizards don't necessarily need offensive help, but Hood could help take pressure off of Beal. He could also play in lineups with both Beal and John Wall.

It's unclear what the Jazz want in return for Hood and whether the Wizards could make a worthy offer. If Utah is taking the longview to build for the future, that could mean a first round pick and the Wizards have already parted with their last two.

Regardless, if the Wizards decide to target shooting guards in the next few weeks, expect Hood's name to come up.

RELATED: DID THE WIZARDS' TEAM MEETING BACKFIRE?

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Wall: A few teammates didn't respond well to recent team meeting

Wall: A few teammates didn't respond well to recent team meeting

Do NBA seasons even count if an emergency team meeting hasn't taken place yet? 

In what's becomming an annual right of passage for underperforming NBA teams, the Wizards recently held a team meeting to address some of the biggest issues that have been dogging them all year. 

While these meetings typically act as motivating springboards that help bring teams together, the Wizards' recent family therapy session might have done the opposite. 

Enter John Wall. Wall, who's already publically voiced concerns over the team's (lack of) effort this season, recently spoke about how the meeting might have rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way:

"At our team meeting, I think a couple guys took it in a negative way," Wall said after the team's win in Detroit. "It hurt our team. Instead of using it in a positive way like we did in the past and using it to build our team up, it kind of set us back a bit."

That's certainly not a ringing endorsement from Wall, and definitely not something you want to hear after a team meeting. Currently, however, the Wizards are back to their winning ways, coming off a nice road win in Detroit. So maybe it worked! 

RELATED: MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM THE WIZARDS' WIN IN DETROIT