We are framing the San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference finals as "Experience vs. Athleticism," but rarely do we zero in on how experience might manifest itself tangibly.
In the case of the Spurs, it can be found in their ability to avoid committing fouls. San Antonio cedes the second fewest free-throw attempts in the league, and Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich has been preaching a "don't foul" mantra for longer than anyone can remember.
Fouls fuel Oklahoma City's attack, and the Thunder rank first among all teams in attempted free throws. Kevin Durant gets to the line seemingly at will, even with his infamous "rip-thru" move now called less often.
But KD is far from OKC's only foul sponge. Russell Westbrook and James Harden combine to average 13 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes. Except Westbrook and Harden couldn't get the experienced Spurs to foul them in the Thunder's Game 1 loss.
While Durant was able to trick Stephen Jackson into a few hacks, the Westbrook-Harden combo got only two free throws.