Cairns put in a strong performance at home to beat Perth 78-72 on Friday night to move to within just one game of Wollongong in fourth position, and with a game in hand over the Hawks.
The Taipans now have a 9-14 record on the season and with Melbourne in third on 10-12, Wollongong fourth on 10-14 and Sydney fifth on 10-14, suddenly they are right back in the mix for a finals berth after winning three of their last four games.
Cairns do have two games against Adelaide and one each against New Zealand, Perth and Melbourne to close out the season. Winning three of those could be enough to secure a finals berth.
Meanwhile, the loss for Perth leaves the Wildcats with three more losses than the top-place New Zealand Breakers with just three games in their season remaining.
The Wildcats sit on a 19-6 record now with three home matches against Sydney, Cairns and New Zealand to close out the regular season – all teams still in finals contention.
To win the NBL minor premiership from here and secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Wildcats would need to win all three games and hope that the Breakers lose two of their other three to Cairns and Melbourne (who they play twice).
The Wildcats arrived in Cairns on the back of a six-game winning run and still holding out hope of snatching top spot from the Breakers before the end of the season, but the Taipans started the stronger with their own playoff hopes potentially on the line.
The Taipans led 16-12 at quarter-time and extended their advantage to nine by half-time and that's where it remained at three quarter-time before the home side went on to win by six.
Cameron Gliddon was the one of the stars of the night for Cairns finishing with a career-high 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point territory. He also picked up six rebounds, five steals and two assists in a terrific all-round performance.
Cam Tragardh was also a strong contributor for the Taipans finishing with 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Alex Loughton added 13 points and five assists and Jamar Wilson nine points and five boards.
Cairns coach Aaron Fearne was obviously happy with Gliddon's breakout performance, but just as happy with Tragardh for picking up the 15 boards.
"I've set him a little goal to be the top five rebounder and he's not far away from that," Fearne said.
"He has always focused on putting the ball in the hoop but I'm making him work on that as well and he was great tonight."
Kevin Lisch scored 20 points for the Wildcats but was hounded into six turnovers by the Taipans' defence.
Big man Matt Knight had a strong game with 19 points and six rebounds with Jesse Wagstaff scoring 12 and point guard Damian Martin finishing with seven points, six assists, five steals, two rebounds and a block.
Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge acknowledges that Cairns, and Gliddon in particular, came up with massive plays and now they return to Perth to gear up for three home games to close out the regular season.
"Some of those plays were pretty big. You take the risk sometimes and see if they can make the shot and guess what? He was sensational tonight and made those big shots," Beveridge said.
"They can beat anyone and I'm flabbergasted they are not a top four team. We've got to go home now and work out how we got comprehensively outworked by them."