We’re talking ‘bout practice …
The Bulls are Back In Town … The Cavaliers got back in the gym after Monday’s loss to the Mavericks in the first game of their five-game homestand, the longest of the season. Up next, they welcome the Bulls to town for their last meeting with Chicago for the season.
In the two teams’ last meeting at The Q, the Wine and Gold won, 97-93. In that game, Luol Deng finished with 27 points and 11 assists. Of course, he was a member of the Bulls back on November 30. On Wednesday night, he’ll face his old mates for the first time as a Cavalier.
“It’s always tough when you go back and you face your old team, but Luol’s been in the game a long time," said Coach Mike Brown. "I’m sure he’ll have some feelings, but once that ball goes up and he starts sweating, he won’t think twice about what he has to do to help us win.”
Having Deng on their side will be a nice change for the Cavs, who’ve struggled mightily against their Central Division foes. Before beating the Bulls late last February, Cleveland had dropped 10 straight to Chicago. That victory was the only game in the last 14 matchups that the Cavs topped the century mark.
Like Coach Brown, Deng isn’t exactly anticipating a tearful reunion tomorrow night at The Q.
“I don’t think we’ll be hugging it out the whole game,” quipped the Cavs starting small forward. “When that ball goes up, I’m focused on winning. We’re friends before the game, we’re friends after the game. But for that 48 minutes, when I’m on the court I’m really focused on my guys and I just want to win.”
Deng has been very good with the Wine and Gold through his first half-dozen games. He’s averaging 18.7 points and shooting an even 50 percent (18-of-20) from beyond the arc. In his Quicken Loans Arena debut in a Cavaliers uniform, Deng finished with 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting, going 8-of-9 from the stripe.
Deng doesn’t expect he’ll be hugging it out on Wednesday, but he does expect his former teammates to go hard.
“I’m sure they’re going to go after me,” said the two-time All-Star. “It’s guys that I’m close friends with, but when the ball goes up, there’s going to be nothing better for them than to beat me and vice versa. I can’t wait to beat them. So it’ll be interesting, and it’s a game that definitely you’re going to be hearing from whoever wins.”
Deng can also clue the Cavaliers in to some of the Bulls’ preferences.
Anytime you can have somebody come from a staff or from somebody’s team to give us insight – whether it’s during a timeout, in practice, in shootaround, before the game, at halftime – any time somebody has insight, you go ahead and you take it, you listen to it. But Luol’s been in a lot of different situations and he’s given us insight on other teams in terms of what they‘ve done against other teams. So it’s great to have a guy like him around all the time.”
At Cleveland Clinic Courts, you won’t get any argument with Coach on that one. It’s definitely great to have a player like Luol Deng around all the time.
Listen as Luol Deng and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Deng's first game against his former squad.