Davis Bertans made his debut with the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night against the Miami Heat. Although he’s learning new offensive and defensive systems, Bertans wasted little time establishing himself in the game.
The 6-foot-10 Latvian forward came off the bench and got to work. It was clear that after a down season with the Washington Wizards, Bertans had more pep in his step as he was eager to play in a new environment.
“The only thing that went through my mind was just having fun.” Bertans said. “I was enjoying every second on the court. Just trying to do my part to help the team win the game, bring the energy. [We] ended up winning the game, so that’s the best part of it.”
It was an impressive 107-99 road win. The Heat, with a 19-6 home record coming into the game, is not an easy opponent. Still, thanks to Bertans and the bench–Maxi Kleber chipped in 19 points–the Mavericks were able to take down one of the best teams in the league.
Bertans subbed into the game with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter. However, he wouldn’t get on the scoreboard for almost four minutes. He connected on his second three-point attempt of the game. It was his first of several makes from deep.
“I thought Davis was great,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said. “One, I think he was excited to play. He hasn’t played in a little bit. So, he was going to get some of the rust off. He had some great looks for us.”
Bertans’ most productive stretch came late in the third quarter as Dallas and Miami jockeyed for a lead. With just over a minute to play in the quarter, he knocked down an above the break three to tie the game at 76-all after a dime from Jalen Brunson.
Thirty seconds later, he struck again. This time, Brunson found him on breakaway as Bertans ran the floor, flushed the ball with an emphatic dunk, and drew a foul. He sank the and-one to give Dallas an 81-78 lead heading into the final frame.
“I just let the game come to me,” Bertans said. “At that moment, I checked in, the shot clock was running down, so I had no other option but to shoot it. Knocked that one down, and then after the great team defensive effort–effort by JB–I was just lucky to be on that end of the floor already.”
Bertans finished the game with 12 points, three rebounds, and an assist. He made four of his eight shots, his dunk being his only two-point make. And he did it all in just over 13 minutes of playing time.
It’s too early to ascribe this kind of nightly production as a given. Bertans is still learning the system, and these opportunities might not come often. Still, he was able to check in and provide a much-needed spark off the bench on both ends. That’s something the Mavericks need.
“It’s a team game on both ends,” Bertans said. “I really feel like I fit in that environment. It has definitely been a quick and easy adjustment coming in. Guys have been welcoming. You can see they’re looking for me when I was getting good looks for three. I think this team already had a great chemistry, so hopefully I can help build on that.”