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Bidding Temporary Adieu to a Budding Great

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It was the Spurs who moved on to the Western Conference Finals last night, so conventional wisdom might suggest that this morning be their time in the CelticsBlog limelight.

But the Spurs are used to limelights a lot brighter than those shed on victories in the semis, and chances are high that we'll be addressing them on multiple occasions in the weeks to come as they battle the purple and gold for the right to represent the West in the Finals.

So instead, we take this morning to stand in awe for one last time this season of a man who appears rapidly en route to a career that will be all-time great by the time it concludes.

As the Spurs walked off the floor with victory secured, TNT's Marv Albert remarked that they had done a fantastic job of keeping Chris Paul under control over the course of the evening.

Albert was right.  The Spurs did keep CP3 under control.  He shot just 44.4 percent from the field and 40 percent from the line, both well below his season averages of 48.8 percent and 85.1 percent respectively.   He turned it over four times, and he scored three points below his season average.

The amazing part is that despite all that, Chris Paul was still clearly the most dynamic player on the floor in the Big Easy last night.

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In the interest of full disclosure, the more complete stat line for CP3 in his first career Game 7 reads as follows: 8-for-18 from the field, 2-for-5 from the foul line, 18 points, 8 rebounds, 14 assists.

Not exactly terrible production for a guy who was relatively contained all night.

But it isn't the gaudy stats that come to mind in these final moments of marveling at Chris Paul for the 2007-08 season.

It's how easy he makes it all look -- and how slow everyone else appears next to him.

Watching Chris Paul run up and down a basketball court -- particularly when the orange sphere is in his hands -- is just an incredible pleasure.

He played all but 25 seconds of this game, and never for a second did he seem to lose energy.  Paul's ability to push the ball up the floor may well be unrivaled in the game today.  He has no shyness about taking the ball coast to coast, and he is capable of making the right decisions about both swishing and dishing while going full speed ahead with the basketball.

But the part of Chris Paul's game that continues to amaze beyond all else is his foul-line-to-block quickness.   The 6-foot point guard may has developed one of the most unstoppable moves in the game to routinely put himself in position for easy buckets: His inside-out hesitation dribble has met no match.  Opponents know it is coming.  They seem to brace for it at the foul line.  But, whoosh, just like that, the N'Awlins guard is past them in a blur and laying the ball in the hoop.

Chris Paul can dish with anybody in the league.  He defends well enough.  He has become a master of the teardrop floater in the paint.  Isn't scared of contact either.

But it's that explosion from the foul line to the rim that keeps leaving me staggering -- and opponents, too.

For fans around the country, it's too bad Chris Paul's season had to end last night.

But for the other 29 teams in this league, it's too bad that he's going to be back and likely just as good as ever for years upon years to come.