On paper, Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard should dominate relatively-unknown Denver Nuggets rookie Facu Campazzo without a second thought. Statistically, that’s happened in the first three games of their 2021 NBA Playoffs series. Lillard is avergaing 37.7 points and 9.3 assists per game. Campazzo scores 10.3 with 6.3 assists. The production gap is undeniable. Thanks to aggressive play from the Denver guard, the “without a second thought” part that needs rethinking.
Geoffrey C. Arnold of The Oregonian snagged quotes from Campazzo following Denver’s Game 3 victory over the Blazers on Thursday night, highlighting a gadfly approach from the over-matched, but undaunted, rookie:
“I try to be aggressive on offense. I try to make the right plays,” Campazzo said after the game. “The most important thing is we won.”
Campazzo is shooting 46.2% from the three-point arc in the series, well above his 35.2% regular-season mark. He’s also averaging a blocked shot per game, which is stunning considering his 5’10 height. Notably, he got into a minor scrap with Lillard in the first period of Game 3, which had no tangible result, but showed that Lillard was at least aware of, and perhaps occasionally annoyed by, his counterpart.
“It’s my way of playing defense. I try to do my job and don’t let them do their job. I don’t want Dame or (Portland guard) CJ (McCollum) to play comfortable,” Campazzo said after the game. “I just try to be there on defense. I try to be smart and try to be aggressive at the same time. That is the game I like.”
Campazzo will queue up for the assignment again again in Game 4 of the series, which tips Saturday at 1:00 PM, Pacific.