2024 NBA Finals

Are the Mavs the new 'Lob City'?

The lob has become an essential piece of the Mavericks' offense. Here's how.

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In addition to Luka Doncic’s stepbacks, Kyrie Irving’s ambidextrous runners and drive-and-kicks for open 3-pointers, the Mavs are also the most prolific alley-oop team of the postseason.

And it’s not even close.

The Mavs have completed 57 alley-oops in their run to the Finals — 15 more than the next four teams combined. Those four: Denver (12), Boston (11), OKC (10) and Indiana (nine).

The additions of Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington at the trade deadline correlate with a spike in alley-oops for Dallas that has only grown in the postseason.

 

Let’s break down how the lob has become an essential piece of Dallas’ offense.

1. Transition lobs: Luka Doncic looks for alley-oop opportunities in transition, sometimes launching lobs from beyond half-court, like this one to Dereck Lively II.

2. Isolation lobs: Irving uses his handles to get by defenders and force opposing bigs to step up to stop his drive, leaving a teammate to catch a lob over the defense.

Doncic operates a bit differently, often getting his defender on his hip as he gets into the paint and forces help to come his way to free up his alley-oop partner.

3. Pick-and-roll lobs: Doncic and Irving have several options off pick-and-roll plays. If the priority is to stop that duo, they’ll find Gafford or Lively with a clear path to the basket.

4. Pick-and-roll variations: Watch the Mavs use multiple screens in a Doncic-Gafford pick-and-roll.

In this example, Gafford set a high screen for Doncic near mid-court. Then, Derrick Jones, Jr. sets a back screen on Gafford’s defender to get both players a clear path to the paint. The defense collapses late on Doncic, who lobs it up to Gafford.

Here, after setting a screen on Doncic’s defender, Gafford rolls to the basket and sets a screen on his defender as Doncic snakes the lane, eventually leading to another lob.

5. Ball and player movement: With Doncic and Irving surveying the floor, quick ball movement that gets the defense scrambling can result in an alley-oop opportunity.

So can a well-timed cut to the basket like Washington’s below.

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