The toughest job for just about any team in a series against the Heat falls on the player opposite LeBron James.

That would be Paul Pierce, whose offense in the Eastern Conference finals may be improving over the previous two playoff rounds, but is still a draining experience based on whom he has to guard.

"Paul has a tough job," Doc Rivers said yesterday afternoon. "He has to guard a pretty good player, a pretty physical player. And then he has to go and try to score 20 as well. In Game 1, he got the early fouls, which threw him off, and then in Game 2 he was in foul trouble. (In Game 3) he didn't have to worry about fouls, and so he could be more aggressive.

"Fouls can affect an offensive player as much as on defense," said the Celtics coach. "You don't want to drive anymore. You worry about offensive fouls and it takes you out of your game. I thought the fact Paul had low fouls allowed him to be very aggressive."

The result was Pierce's 23-point performance during the Celtics' Game 3 win over Miami on Friday night. He is averaging 18.3 points over the first three games of this series, but shooting only 34 percent (20-for-58).