Bertans returns from birth of son to light it up from three originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Rarely is there a contrast in the box score showing a player's value in their team's win quite like there was on Monday night for Davis Bertans and the Washington Wizards.
Bertans went 6-for-12 from three-point range. The rest of the Wizards went 4-for-19. They won by 12, but midway through the fourth quarter the Thunder were as close as four points.
Bertans' threes were essential and they came in his return from a two-game absence due to the birth of his son. The Latvian Laser came back just in time to help lift the Wizards to their fifth straight win and their seventh in their last eight games.
"He’s a difference-maker. He’s one of the key players that when we’re having success, he’s usually in the middle of it," head coach Scott Brooks.
Bertans is now shooting 40.4 percent from three on 7.4 attempts per game on the season. He's averaging 11.5 points.
Those numbers are still slightly down from the 42.4 percent he shot from three (8.7 3PA/g) and 15.4 points he averaged last season, but he's made up plenty of ground from his slow start to the year. His season is no longer the disastrous start to his new contract many proclaimed it was months ago.
Bertans has leveled out to what constitutes a fine season in the context of his career. His value is rooted in three-point shooting and lately he's been changing games by knocking them down.
Over his last seven games since returning from a calf injury, Bertans is shooting 48.4 percent from three. On Monday, he hit his first two threes and by halftime had three of them, including a buzzer-beater to end the second quarter.
Bertans coming back and hitting the ground running is a welcomed change given how the rest of his season has gone. Back in January, he was just starting to heat up after a rough start when he contracted Covid-19 and missed two-and-a-half weeks, only to come back ice cold. He found his shooting stroke again in March, only to then suffer the calf injury and miss another two weeks.
Bertans pointed out a few differences between this return and the previous ones.
"Coming back from injury, I had to reset my body. I’ve been doing a better job on the defensive end of the floor than before. That’s what I’ve tried to focus on more. On offense, if the shots come to me, I take them," he said.
Bertans, of course, only missed two games this time. The previous absences were longer. He was also able to get into the Wizards' practice facility on Sunday to calibrate his shot.
There may have also had a secret ingredient on Monday; whatever mojo comes having a kid. It may be anecdotal and impossible to prove, but it just seems like athletes play better in that first game back from their wife having a child.
Bertans himself has noticed it before.
"From what I’ve seen in my own experience, yes. A friend of mine was playing in Spain in a similar situation. The first couple of weeks was going off," he said.
"I think it’s all the positive emotions you get out of it. It’s not something you can experience every time. It’s so incredible just basically being in the room. Seeing what my wife had to go through, basketball is easy."
Thankfully, both Bertans' wife and baby boy are doing well. He's been doing all he can to help her at home the last few days, which as he said has involved a lot of running up and down the stairs to fetch her things.
Perhaps that helped keep him in shape. Whatever the combination of factors was, it worked for Bertans against the Thunder.
"Once you step on the court, everything else kind of disappears. You kind of just focus on the game. You’re locked into that mindset," he said. "After the game, you start thinking about what really matters."