Since Deng was traded, Bulls have won eight of their last 10 games.
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has admitted that it will be weird facing former teammate Luol Deng on Wednesday night but is focused on getting the win.
The 28-year-old sealed a move to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month in a deal which saw the Bulls obtain Andrew Bynum and three future draft picks.
While Bynum has since been waived in order to create salary cap space, Chicago are undoubtedly looking toward the future and putting themselves in a position to build a competitive roster in future years with Derrick Rose returning from injury next season.
However, Noah has revealed that he still considers Deng as a brother, but while he will be delighted to see him again before tip-off, he will be in his competitive zone when the game starts.
“It will probably be weird,” Noah told reporters on Monday night, according to ESPN.
“It will probably be strange but I still want to kick his ass right now. I feel like we’re working hard in the conference. I love Luol. He’s my brother. But when that ball goes up, he’s not going to be my brother when the ball goes up.”
Bulls forward Taj Gibson echoed that sentiment, while coach Tom Thibodeau paid tribute to Deng for his years of service to the franchise and his contribution after he arrived to take charge of the team.
Deng’s departure sparked rumours that Thibodeau had been undermined and would be pushing for an exit, but the Bulls have won eight of their last 10 games to put themselves in a strong position in a weak Eastern Conference.
Jimmy Butler has been developed into a replacement for Deng, and conceded that the Team GB star had taught him a lot during their time together on the team.
Nevertheless, the entire Bulls unit appreciate that the Cavaliers represent competition when it comes to securing a place in the post-season, and they will be determined to secure the win against their old friend.